A couple weeks ago I posted about an effort in Lake County to have warning labels put on YA library books , or force libraries to move "bad" books to their own shelf. (Because you know, an entire YA section just isn't good enough anymore.) This time, a mother decided she'd just keep the books off the shelf all together.
The 4 books in question are The It Girl series (inspired by Gossip Girl). The mom in question flipped through her 13-year-old's selections and "saw numerous curse words and terms such as 'stoned' and 'marijuana,' and a reference to sleeping with a teacher."
(Wait, you mean these books contained all the things I heard about and was surrounded by when I was in high school nearly two decades ago? Surely, those words and issues aren't STILL around. People must have figured out some kids do these things and put a stop to it by now. )
Long story short, Mom hides the books in her closet and refuses to return to them to the library because "If I turn them in, they will be put back into circulation and and they'll be available for more young girls to read."
Oh yes, imagine the horror. Young girls reading. *Gasp* What is the world coming to?
No, no, I'm kidding (kind of). I understand that this mother doesn't think certain topics are appropriate for her kids to read. I GET IT. But, handle it the right way. Racking up an $85 library fine, having your library card revoked, and holding 4 books hostage is not my idea of the right way. (85% of the commenters on OrlandoSentinel.com agree.)
The cool part? When this news reached such a level of wrongtitude that it spread to the masses, guess what happened? People brought copies of those books to the library to replace the ones being held hostage. So many that the library (graciously) had to stop accepting those specific books because they had too many. Win for the library, and for the author's sales. *fist pump*
Not to mention most teens who heard about this hoopla will now be foaming at the mouth to read the series.
The latest is that the books have been returned to the library. The fine has not been waived, but of course the mother feels it should be. In her own words, "It's not like I lost the books or I didn't feel like turning them in."
Does anyone else want to reach through the screen and shake some sense into her?
I'm sure a few of you may not think this woman is in the wrong. These issues are so subjective. You are entitled to your opinion, but as booklovers, authors, etc. I think most of you would agree that she could have handled this in a much better manner.
One Clermont, FL resident (Marvin Jacobs) wrote to the editor and expressed my thoughts and feeling beautifully:
If the classification of "Young Adult" does not fit with (this mother's) belief of the behaviors of young adults, I encourage her to talk with middle and high school teachers who work daily with these "young adults."*claps wildly* Go Marvin!
When the content of a fiction book includes facts about real life, it opens the door for parents and children to have a discussion and learn from each other.
We, as a society, must stop avoiding difficult conversations with our children.
Perhaps she should attend the play coming to Bob Carr, "Spring Awakening."
Indeed, this play which was written in 1890, deals with many of the same issues in the books discussed — but in a modern, Tony Award-winning musical.
Bottom line: She and her daughter need to have a conversation — and the media and the rest of us need to step back.
Yes, Mommy Extremist, learn something from this experience: pay your fine, and TALK WITH YOUR CHILDREN. These curse words and taboo subjects don't just exist in books. You can't hide the whole world in your closet and keep your daughter from being exposed to real life.
And the media will never step back, but I understand what Marvin's saying. Heck, it gets me so fired up that I have to post about it on my 'lil ol' blog.
I know you all have something to say, so feel free to comment. Even if you love Mommy Extremist's methods and have your own closet full of hidden "bad" books and hundreds of dollars in library fines, I'd still love to hear from you.
I'm linking to a search results page on OrlandoSentinel.com because there are a bunch of great articles involving this topic. One even mentions why labeling books would raise legal issues. But that's a whole new topic for a different day.
Links to articles