I don’t usually think of my kids in relation to freedom of reading and banned books. I generally think of that as an issue for older kids who are more likely to be confronted with content issues (language, sex, race) in books by writers like Twain, Nabokov, Gordimer. Then I realized that my kindergartner was not only reading banned books, but they were his favorites.
Which made me think of everything he would have missed out on if I had refused to read him
stupid silly books. This made me think of all the times I wanted to say no to a how-to, or science book, encyclopedia, or media-tie-in, and then didn’t because a long time ago, Lewis told me not to. It’s true, sometimes we read the same book over and over and over. And it gets tedious,as last spring’s firestorm suggested. But these things pass. We don’t read those books every night for ever. Soon they get boxed up and put away and kids move on to other stories. And while curling up with the Daring Book for Boys or the Dangerous Books for Girls is not really my idea of a bedtime story, it is, sometimes, my kids. So I read it to them, whatever they want. They other night, my daughter read her novel then had me read her a Halloween Spooky tricks book. The novel that I wanted to share with her she told me–in no uncertain terms–was hers. Okay, I said, and I learned how to make my third finger float in the air before me, which was not un-fun.
I realized this: Sure, I don’t ban any reading from my kids. If they can read it, they can read it. But freedom to read is just as important for younger kids, too, maybe especially emerging readers. We shouldn’t be saying no to those books that annoy us, or that we think aren’t up to their grade level, or that have too many pictures.There’s more to a literate life than fiction.
The new post is up at HuffParents today.