There are graphic novels and fantasy novels and novels with aliens and advanced technologies.
There are biographies and reference books and books documenting criminal acts.
There are books with big words, rude words, no words and new words.
All one needs to do to find these books is look.
From a young age, we are very inquisitive. We seek new information and have the desire to learn. It’s true, we’re not always interested in everything in equal measure but what does captivate us, we grab onto and thrive on, wishing to discover more.
When you’re growing up, books can be some of the best sources of new information and imaginative discoveries. With so many books out there, covering such a vast range of topics and genres, it’s enough to make some people nervous. With so much available at the click of a finger, children and teens have access to a lot more than they used to. Parents are doomed to worry about what mightn't be “appropriate” for their children to read.
I understand a parent’s desire to be informed as to what their children are reading. It’s good to be aware of what your children are discovering inside the pages of a novel because parents should be a part of their child’s learning and developments.
There are parents who go to the extremes of having certain books banned from schools and libraries because they deem them to be immoral. This puts a damper on children’s ability to read and learn because an adult is taking action to smother a young person’s desire to discover and learn because of their own insecurities and prejudices. It gives youngsters the idea that reading certain books is bad and that learning new insights can be a dangerous venture.
A week ago, I saw a mother and her daughter in a bookstore. The girl (maybe thirteen) wanted to buy a set of adult books, involving plenty of violence and sex scenes. Since this was in the young adult section, I pointed it out to the mother, just so that she was informed. I was impressed to discover that the mother was very comfortable with her daughter reading and viewing material above her target age level. I think as long as parents are aware and involved, they have nothing to be concerned about. After all, if her daughter is reading, that is what matters.
Once in a large bookstore, I saw a little boy begging his mother for a book. She refused him. Imagine taking a child into a bookstore and refusing him a book! I have no idea what sort of book he was after but he was probably forced to go home and watch “age-appropriate” television, which might have been some dumbed-down program for children that would traumatise most adults.
Parents that read with their children and don’t neglect the books targeted at their child’s age group are much more likely to nourish their child's appreciation of literature. If you are confident and open about exploring books with your child, then they will be open and confident about discussing the book's themes and subjects with you.
Censorship and the banning of books is a serious issue. While a parent has a right to take an interest in what their children are reading, to take measures that keep others from reading what are often good and well-loved books, isn’t fair.
Books can’t hurt people or make them do anything. They are simply a wonderful gateway that allows readers to experience and discover something new.