Since I came into this world, I’ve had a problem with people telling me what to do. Accompanied with a mouth and an attitude that would rival Mariah Carey, you can imagine what my parents had to deal with (send them flowers if you have the time. They deserve all the sympathy they can get.) Now, I wasn’t outright defiant in the sense that I wouldn’t do things out of spite (I’m not a “stick it to the man” kind of girl), but if I was told to do something I didn’t understand, I wanted an explanation as to why I had to do it. This was followed by a lot of “because I said so’s”, and although I would usually end up doing what was asked of me, I didn’t like being bossed around.
Now that I’ve given you some background knowledge, you can probably guess my stance on book censorship. I don’t like being told what to do, so why would anyone else, reading included? I think it’s a given that book censorship, which may stem from good intentions (or may not, depending on your beliefs/the source advocating for said censorship), is overall negative and places limitations on young readers. This is a given. However, what about self-censorship, a censorship that is completely imposed by you?
We have to get out of our comfort zones, guys. We have to read books that we would normally push to the side in favor of books that will challenge our points of view and open us up to the struggles of others. Not only will we grow as readers, we’ll grow as people; we can empathize more, analyze more, and most importantly KNOW MORE about the world as a whole. Literature is a wonderful medium where we can learn about the world and its inhabitants simply from words on a page, so why wouldn’t we capitalize on that?
If not for ourselves, we must read challenging books for our students’ sake. We are the ultimate examples for our kids–they’re looking to us as a model for their own reading life, and if we can say “Yes, I read this book because it’s outside of my norm,” we’re taking the first step to ensuring our students will be adventurous readers in their own right.
Take the initiative. Read the book you’re anxious about, maybe even scared of. Be brave and stretch that noggin of yours, and show your students what a great reader looks like.
Image via The Blue Diamond Gallery