As you may know, we’re in the middle of National Banned Books Week. You can see the list of most-challenged books here.
In addition to being an author, I’m also a parent. My kids are 11 and almost-15, and they’re both avid readers. My younger one, who favors fantasies, has almost exhausted her school library’s supply, leading the librarian to give her lists of books to check out from the county library instead. My older daughter is currently re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird and has just discovered Love in the Time of Cholera, which she’s raving about. She also loves Stephen King. Needless to say, this makes my heart sing.
I would never try to prohibit my kids from reading a book. To be sure, I’ve gently discouraged both of them from picking up my books for a couple more years because I think–especially for the 11-year-old–some of my work is too explicit. And here’s the thing: neither of them has argued with me about this. And although my books are readily available around the house and on our Kindles, neither of the girls has tried to read them (except the Ennek series, which my older daughter has read). I think this is because kids, like adults, will naturally censor themselves. If something makes them uncomfortable, they probably won’t read it.
I also think parents can discuss difficult book topics with their kids. For instance, my older daughter and I have had some great discussions about racism and the justice system, thanks to Harper Lee.
What it comes down to in the end is that precious few children have ever been harmed by reading a book–but a whole lot of people have been harmed by not reading.