Book Journey for her Banned Books Week event.
Usually I try to read/review an adult fiction novel for this oh-so-special week, but I lost track of time and didn't get around to doing that this year. Instead, I felt it would be the perfect time to talk about banned children's picture books.
If you're anything like me, you heard the words "banned children's picture books" for the first time and did a double-take. Picture books? REALLY? I disagree with banning books in general, but at least with YA or adult novels, I can see exactly what material the "banners" find objectionable...sexual content, violence, etc. Still not worth banning, but I at least understand what got their panties in a twist. But picture books? What's so wrong with Dr. Seuss and Where's Waldo?
Apparently, a lot of things. Like teaching our kids to love the Earth. THANKS, LORAX.
(A California school district banned The Lorax because it would turn children off to the idea of logging. Stop loving the Earth, kids! Just stop!)
You know what else sucks? Liking other people, even if they are different from you. WTF, TANGO.
(And Tango Makes Three, an adorable book based on the true story of a same-sex penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo, is often banned because it raises the topics of homosexuality and nontraditional families.)
And let's not forget the insidiousness of creativity and imagination! That's a no-go, Maurice Sendak!
(Where the Wild Things Are, a Caldecott Award winner, has been banned in some schools because it promotes witchcraft and the supernatural.)
I think I am even more bothered by the banning of picture books than I am YA/adult novels, because at least teens and adults can be sneaky and find ways to read the books anyway, if they really want to. ;) However, young kids are largely limited to the books that their parents and schools provide to them directly...and if their parents and schools are keeping certain books out of reach, then chances are that they will not get access to them, period.
Plus, these books touch on topics that are SO great to introduce at a young age! A 5-year-old who regularly reads books such as And Tango Makes Three is going to be much more kind and accepting to LGBTQ peers as he/she grows up, because they will already have relationships like that as part of their mental framework. (Not to mention, if they later come out as LGBTQ themselves, they may feel more confident knowing that this is a lifestyle they have not only read about, but discussed with family/friends, for a very long time.)
Is it easy to talk to a young child about sexual orientation, or divorce, or bullies, or any other complicated topic? Of course not. But don't picture books with relevant messages make it a little easier? By putting the topics in a format that is familiar to kids, picture books are doing half the work for us! And a book paired with thoughtful discussion is a far better option than no discussion at all.
So get out there, parents! Aunts! Uncles! Grandparents! And everyone else buying books for the younger generation. Pick up a banned picture book for your littlest reader friend, and help them expand their lil' mind. :)
What's your favorite banned picture book? Have you used picture books to approach any tough topics with your children?