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Kids' Book Censorship: The Who and Why


Four Girls and Boys Looking at the Same Textbook in a Classroom at Primary School
Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images

Challenges Are Ongoing

Many people think that challenges, book censorship and book banning are things that happened in the distant past. That is certainly not the case as you'll see from my 2012 Banned Books Report on book censorship.

Why Do People Want to Ban Books?

When people challenge books it is generally out of a concern that the contents of the book will be harmful to the reader. According to the ALA, there are four motivating factors:
  • Family Values
  • Religion
  • Political Views
  • Minority Rights.
The age level for which a book is intended does not guarantee that someone won't try to censor it. Though the emphasis seems to be on challenges to children's and young adult (YA) books, attempts are also mounted to restrict access to certain adult books. Most complaints are made by parents and are directed to public libraries and schools.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Kids Fight Book Banning Through kidSPEAK

Several organizations sprung up in response to concerns about censorship of children's books. When the Harry Potter books came under attack, a number of organizations joined together to establish Muggles for Harry Potter, which became known as kidSPEAK and focused on being a voice for kids in fighting censorship in general. KidSPEAK stressed, "Kids have First Amendment rights—and kidSPEAK helps kids fight for them!"

Parents Against Bad Books in Schools

PABBIS (Parents Against Bad Books in Schools), is just one of a number of parent groups around the country challenging children's and young adult books in classroom teaching, and in school and public libraries. These parents go beyond wanting to restrict access to certain books for their own children; they seek to restrict access for other parents' children as well by getting one or more books removed from the library shelves or having access to the books restricted in some way.

What Do You Think?

According to article Public Libraries and Intellectual Freedom on the American Library Association Web site,
    "It is appropriate for parents to guide their children’s reading, television viewing, and exposure to media as they see fit. The public library can assist in this process by providing reader’s advisory services, booklists, and other related services in a positive, pro-active manner. What they library should not do is act in loco parentis — in the place of the parents — either by limiting access to materials or services solely on the basis of the user’s age or by attempting to enforce parentally dictated controls."

For More Information About Book Banning and Kids' Books

See All About Book Banning and Children's Books for more of my articles about the subject.

What do you think about all of this? I hope you will share your opinion by responding to the Readers Respond question below.

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