Wednesday, August 24

Should Young Readers Submit to Censorship?

What should young readers be reading? That seems to be the question that circulates through plenty of people’s minds. Should there be a close analysis of what teenagers read in school? Should parents be able to police their kid’s reading list?

I’m not a parent but I am an avid reader and I am young – close enough to my teens to have enough of a distance to speculate but not too much to reflect on what it’s like.

Books are brilliant.

I did not read as much as I should or could have when I was a teenager. It is a shame. I do, however, read plenty of young adult novels at the moment since there is such a boom in young adult books and so many YA authors have a huge online presence.

What sort of the subject matters are there in YA books? Are they appropriate for teens?

Here are a few things you might come across in young adult novels:
  • Family dynamics
  • Love triangles
  • Sexual relations
  • The concept of “good” and “evil”
  • Same-sex relationships
  • Death
  • Struggle and triumph against adversity
  • Magic
  • Abuse
  • Friendship
…and a whole lot more. Young adult fiction isn’t a genre, so it can cover a wide range of themes and topics.

Would you want to read books that cover all those topics and more? Perhaps, perhaps not. Everyone has different tastes when it comes to books and different things appeal to different people.

What should young people be reading? Well, for starters they should be reading books. If they’re reading books, that is a pretty big mark in the “win” column. What people mean when they ask this question is what is deemed “appropriate.”

Is it appropriate for a girl to read about a fictional character’s traumas?

It is if it helps her identify with her own problems. It is if it allows her to understand insecurities outside of her own.

If a youngster reads a book in which a character does something, will they emulate it?

That’s to do with their personality and upbringing, not to blame on a book. There is no mass subtext in fiction that says: Do this, do this, do this. If a person is susceptible to recreate something they read in a book, then it will have been a pre-existing state.

Should a parent be able to pre-read books before allowing their children to?

Do you have the time, mate?

I think if a parent wants to read what their children are interested in reading, it may be a good thing because then they can see the contents of the book instead of just going, “Ew, evil dark book, get away from my bebbehs!”

I was reading a book the other day (targeted at children, not young adults) and I wouldn’t let a child read it. No way. I wouldn’t let a teen read it. I wouldn’t let an adult read it.


It – was – rubbish.

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." - Oscar Wilde

This is my opinion on books and censorship all ‘round. Yes, censorship. People speak out against censorship but plenty of them don’t seem to think it applies to young people. It does.

Young people need to read books and there are a lot of good books to be read.

If you’re a parent and you’re wondering exactly what “young adult” means (when I think “young” and “adult” I think “an adult who is young” but often it means 12 and up) then just ask questions. Young adult books do have target ages for you to look into.

In my honest opinion, though, if your kid managed to pick up and read a book on their own and you snatched it away from them, it kind of defeats the point.

Note: When it comes to studying books in school, it has been my experience that the book in question will be forever sullied for the student. Thus, good books – regardless of topic – should never be taught in school.

What are your thoughts? Whether you’re a parent, an adult, a teen…I’d love to know your point of view.


Determinist said...

I am solidly against censorship. I could never support it under any circumstances.

I want teens to be reading widely and voraciously. I want them to LOVE what they read and I want all the best books to find readers who deserve them.

The only way that can happen is everyone is reading everything and is allowed to form their opinions and tell everyone else.

As soon as something gets censored, it gets more attention than it deserves. Who wants that?

Sydnee said...

I believe that books should never be censored (i.e., have their original content changed in order to placate someone's agenda), however, I think it's natural and acceptable to discourage children of certain ages (for me that means kids under 13 or so... after that if they want to read something they'll get to it whether you want them to or not) or temperaments from reading certain books. Banning them outright, though, is pretty lame. Every child has a different maturity level, so what is appropriate for one household might not be appropriate for another. That is the parent's decision and the law should have no bearing on it.

If I were a parent, I wouldn't care as long as they were reading. If I thought the material could be objectionable or confusing, then I'd make sure to talk it over with the kid so she doesn't get confused and/or traumatized (and if she's traumatized, then it's time for a new book series). When I was in middle school, I was already reading smutty romance novels... and my mom knew. She didn't mind one bit, and I haven't been ruined because of reading that stuff so young. I think a lot of adults exaggerate the dangers of fiction.