Friday, 14 March 2014

Kendal's Column: Should we censor books in schools?

Whilst researching 'Eleanor and Park' for last weeks review I stumbled across an article about the book being censored in an American school due to mild sexual content and strong language used by some characters in intense scenes.

This was kind of bewildering to me as, in my opinion, Eleanor and Park isn't a book that I would give an 'explicit content' label to. The book doesn't contain unnecessary 'mature' content.
 Any and all strong language in this book is used to illustrate strong emotions of characters; any 'mature' content is used to show the development of relationships as well as to connect with the audience and their own experiences and relationships as teenagers. The content is also used to convey the difficulties of a situation which most people may not have experienced and the language used is only to illustrate the thoughts and feeling of a person going through that.

But why do we feel it necessary to censor books anyway?

As you grow up, you learn about life- the good and the bad.
Granted, no one would dare tell a 3 year old that there are people are dying at this moment in time or that the world could end at any moment due to any number of reasons (i'm not talking mayan calendars, i'm talking overdue super volcanoes etc etc) but ,within reason, books should be for whoever wants to read them.
By the time you are in your mid-teens you've had at least one Sex Ed class and you've probably heard all the 'strong' words in the book from various sources.

I'm going to make myself perfectly clear here, before I get any pitchforks and torches at my door, i am by no means saying that we should let young people read whatever they want as there is a line which i shall name 'The 50 Shades of Grey Line'
We all know the trilogy, even if -like me - you haven't read it, you know the genre it fits into. This is the line that shouldn't be crossed by the under 15/16's for (self purchasing) books and this is the line that shouldn't be crossed in schools (obviously) because there would always be risks/complications, not to mention the glaringly obvious point that it would be plain inappropriate.

But banning books like Little Red Riding Hood, a classic fairy tale that has been told for centuries, from schools?

You can bubble wrap a child all you want, one day they will leave the nest and they will find out about all the bad things and good things in the world. If someone isn't educated about life then they're more likely to mess up.
If something perfectly natural is hidden from someone or avoided in discussion it's made to seem like an embarrassing or shameful thing-which is ridiculous- and can lead to poor relationships in later life.

Would you deny someone to learn a lesson from a book that could influence their life simply because of the fact the book dealt with REAL issues?

Books teach people life lessons.
You're better at learning when you're young.

Happy Friday


  1. Great post Kendal! I agree, books that deal with difficult issues should not be banned from schools. Although I'm sure it can be hard to define where to draw the line, classics should not be included in that list! And it's ridiculous that people thought Eleanor and Park was an inappropriate read! I think it's a good point that it can help educate children, especially if the issue is presented in a well thought out, balanced manner. It can give great perspective!

    1. Thank you, i just feel that it's almost laughable that some people think that censoring more mature books in schools stops children being subjected to violent material- turn on the news and you'll see stories that are 10 times more violent than any YA novel that can be viewed by anyone.

      Thank you for your comment :)

  2. haha! I love the "50 shades of grey line" - as if Eleanor and Park is inappropriate for a teenage audience! I tend to read whatever I feel like whether I think the language or description is inappropriate or not... you get to a certain age where you know everything anyway and nothing else is going to come as a shock. Love this post!


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