How do you feel about school book bans? I was in the book store the other day with my son, perusing the shelf of Newberry Medal-winning books, and saw a novel called The Higher Power of Lucky. I recalled that there had been some controversy over the book, and decided to go home and do a bit of research to see why it had been banned in some schools before I bought it for my child.
When I looked into it, I discovered that the controversy had been over a word: scrotum. That one word, which apparently appears early in the book, is what fired up some parents’ and school librarians’ objections, and prompted them to ask their elementary schools to ban the book.
On the one hand, I can see why parents would want to have some say over which books are taught to their children in school. On the other, there is the question of whether such objections should lead to a school or school district banning a particular book from being made available to children whose parents may not object to that book. It’s the old sensible caution or censorship conundrum.
School book bans have affected books ranging from the enormously popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer to critically-acclaimed works such as Huckleberry Finn and the Newberry Medal-winner The Higher Power of Lucky.
I, for one, do not think that I can prevent my son from being exposed to ideas that I may not like. Would I be okay if my 8-year-old’s school started playing profanity-laden songs in the classroom? Of course not. But banning a book from the school library shelf that has the word “scrotum” in it, just based upon the word alone? Absolutely not. And the idea of a book ban makes me uncomfortable. After all, one of the foundations of our country is freedom of speech, isn’t it?