For the record, I am opposed to censorship and banning books. I do think that as parent – especially of very young children – you have a responsibility to make sure your kids are ready to understand and contextualize the information they are receiving.
I remember reading a book of classic fairy tales to my son for bedtime stories and finding myself frequently improvising the text rather than read the words on the page. Why? Because so many of those creepy old stories end in kidnapping, murder, and cannibalism. Not what you want to put in your three or four-year-old’s head before tucking them in and shutting out the light.
However, once they’re older, going to the library and picking out books to read, let them have the full catalogue of published works to choose from.
Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.
Over the past decade, titles to routinely make the list include: The Hunger Games, Twilight, Captain Underpants, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things.
So too have classics people are still complaining about such as To Kill a Mockingbird (offensive language, racism), The Catcher in the Rye (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group), and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (racism, use of the N-word).
You can read the complete list of most challenged book by year on The American Library Association’s website. (Other notable entries include: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and perhaps less surprisingly, Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.)
As I mentioned, I am opposed to censorship. However, along with those rather grisly fairy tales, I have stumbled across some quite disturbing scenes in the children’s books I read my son. Here are a few of the more striking examples. [Warning Explicit Content Ahead.]
Do You Wanna Play with my Balls?
Your beaver at night is your business
I do not want to know what Harpo’s secret is
He needs boys for what island?
Wait … What’s going on here?
Okay, dogs. Knock it off. This is a kids’ book. Let’s keep it PG.