Who Appointed YOU as Gatekeeper?

 By Charlotte Bennardo

Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona (Pexels)

As an author and former journalist, the increasing calls for 'overseeing' (gatekeeping) what reading materials are acceptable in public school and classroom libraries is nothing more than censorship, of one group trying to impose their standards, thus their will, on everyone else. 

Don't want your child, who may be questioning their sexuality reading about a gay teen, such as in "Two Boys Kissing" by David Leviathan? Don't want your child reading about an interfaith family, puberty, and a girl's first period like in "Dear God, It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume? That book has been out since 1970- you've had plenty of time to deal with it. So honey, your issues are way deeper than your child reading one of these books; the issues are with YOU, and what YOU want. What YOU believe. Violent movies and video games are okay, BUT certain books... 

If your child brings home a book you don't 'approve' of, sit down with them and discuss why they want to read it. Maybe they're just curious, maybe they feel like they are the same as the character, maybe a friend suggested it to them for whatever reason. This is an opportunity to get on a more personal level with your child, really learn about them. Read the book together, discuss it. Tell them what specifically makes YOU uncomfortable or even angry. Give your child the same opportunity to understand it. 

I liken this situation to my husband's Italian family at dinner. Children aged 13 or so were allowed a sip of wine with dinner. They hated the taste- but the mystery was solved- what does wine taste like? And because that mystery was solved, they didn't sneak liquor behind their parents' backs; it was a shared experience. It gave them a context that generally held throughout their lives; they rarely abused alcohol. 


“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”

—Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

“If there's one American belief I hold above all others, it's that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what is "right" and what is "best" should be given no rest; that they should have to defend their behavior most stringently. ... As a nation, we've been through too many fights to preserve our rights of free thought to let them go just because some prude with a highlighter doesn't approve of them."

— Stephen King

“Something will be offensive to someone in every book, so you've got to fight it.”

— Judy Blume

For more quotes on banning books and the idiocy behind it, go https://www.bustle.com/articles/183209-15-quotes-about-censorship-and-the-danger-of-banning-books

Charlotte writes MG, YA, NA, and adult novels in sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal genres. She is the author of the award-winning middle grade Evolution Revolution trilogy, Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons. She co-authored the YA novels Blonde OPS, Sirenz, and Sirenz Back in Fashion. She has two short stories in the Beware the Little White Rabbit (Alice through the Wormhole) and Scare Me to Sleep (Faces in the Wood) anthologies. Currently she is working on several novels for both children and adults, and her MFA. She lives in NJ with her family and her floofy cat. When they trimmed the backyard tree, the crazy squirrel couple had to move out.


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