It always surprises me that adults give children so little credit. It seems that some imagine them as little animals that need to be “trained” and that they’re impossible of thought, understanding and reason. Certainly, some subject matter is beyond a toddler’s comprehension, but we should never assume that something will “just confuse them” without discussing it with them first.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t know how to have intelligent conversations with their children. This is particularly true if the subject matter is something that the parent doesn’t understand or makes them uncomfortable. Avoiding these discussions often makes intelligent children all the more curious. When something is labeled “for adults only”, it usually makes it more desirable to children. What is forbidden is often desirable.
Banning a book from a school library, for instance, might make children want to read it more. The people of Erie, Illinois will soon discover if their school district’s removal of The Family Book will make children more curious about non-traditional families. Students in this school district will no longer have access to Todd Parr’s book because it has been pulled from local elementary schools’ shelves because of a line which notes that “some families have two moms or two dads.”
The winner of two National Parenting Publication Awards and three Oppenheim Gold Awards, Parr has authored more than thirty children's books, including The Feelings Book, It's Okay To Be Different and We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption And Families.
I this another example of the if-we-ignore-them-they’ll-go-away mentality exhibited by many parents who are uncomfortable with, or unaware of, the realities that their children face in today’s world. Families with same-sex parents exist and banning a book that mentions them will not make them disappear. In my opinion, all this will do is alienate students whose parents are of the same gender and further define their families as somehow “less than”.
This surprises me as the state of Illinois seems to be moving in a direction that treats its LGBT citizens more equally. Surely, banning the book will inspire children to ask even more awkward questions than the book ever would have had it been allowed to remain in the district’s libraries.. Odds are, any kids who read this book would have whipped right past that part and not given it a second thought. But, now that a few parents have made a stink, the issue is front-and-center.
Frankly, I think censorship is a much more harmful.
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