This morning I looked up how far away Spotsylvania County is from my house: 48 miles. I did this after reading this article regarding a recent Spotsylvania County School Board meeting where an elected official stated that they wanted to burn books so kids could never read them. To me, statements like these belong in 1938 Germany, or in 1478 Spain, not in 2021, 48 miles away.
I have not yet read the book, I wonder if the person who stated they wanted to burn it has read it. Reading a description of it, it sounds dark, published in 2003 its protagonist is an orphaned child facing sexual abuse and homelessness. These are horrible predicaments and I understand that many parents would want to shield their children from learning about these realities. But that’s the thing – they are realities for some children and teens, and although its ugly and one parent may not want their child to read it, one parent should not get to decide what is best for all children, especially those who face homelessness, sexual abuse, and who might find some hope seeing their life reflected in a story.
I support parents who don’t want their children reading material they feel would be upsetting or goes against their beliefs. I also support parents talking to their kids about tough issues and being aware of what media they are consuming. Reading a book is the safest place to learn about life, and books are often where children first find themselves or their hopes reflected in the pages of their favorite story.
Ideas spread like cinders, and the recent rise in threats to Intellectual Freedom by these calls to burn or ban books leaves me very concerned. If you feel similarly, which I hope you do, please consider what you can do to support the rights of libraries to provide material that supports all view points and walks of life. Writing your school board representative to tell them you support intellectual freedom and the rights of readers BEFORE there is a threat of it in your community is a great idea. You can also write your county or city leadership stating that you support having these books available in your public library. Here are some resources both from the American Library Association and the Virginia Library Association for you to help support Intellectual Freedom:
I leave you with this quote, from American writer Kurt Vonnegut, forever one of my favorites: