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>Bagging our principles

>Fuse 8 led me to Susan Patron’s defense of The Higher Power of Lucky’s Scrotum at PW online, and while it is admirably articulate and refreshingly undefensive, I am bothered by one line: “If I were a parent of a middle-grade child, I would want to make decisions about my child’s reading myself.”

So would I, because the world would run far more pleasantly if everyone just did things my way. I do dislike it when librarians and ALA place the censorship debate into the hands of parents like it’s a gift: “we encourage you to come to the library with your child and select books that both of you blah blah blah.” We don’t really mean it–at least I hope we don’t. Libraries should be a place where children can run happily afoul of their parents fears, aspirations, protection and authority. What better place to learn to think for yourself? I was pleased as punch when the Conservative Christian Resource Center years ago lifted from one of my editorials for their “Quote of the Week,” labelling it a really scary viewpoint: “Just because parents have the legal right to control their children’s reading does not mean that we should encourage them to do so.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Absolutely positively right on, R. But I think what she was doing was trying to shift the fascist leadership gently down the food chain because if thelibrarians feel they can pass the buck to the parents then when the parents squawk how dare you put a book in the library with this word they can say, because we are not the first line of defense you are and then at least the book is available. And kids with fascist parents have to contend with them that way anyway. But you used to argue about critics job being to put good books into kids hands. You seem to have done a rethink which I applaud.

  2. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Their fear is based on a mistaken perception that the Gatekeepers — those who buy the books for wandering, story-hungry children to discover — have a narrow set of values that excludes their own.

    Let me put it to you this way: if you suspected that librarians, reviewers, and book-buyers were homophobic fascists, would you let your kids wander freely through aisles stocked with their choices? Okay, maybe you would, respecting their ability to discern the truth for themselves, but I bet you’d be curious about what they were reading late at night under the covers via flashlight.

    Just trying to show that this whole issue is a matter of trust and relationship, or lack thereof. That’s why a local librarian is so important, because s/he can listen to and also speak into the life of a community or school.

  3. Roger Sutton says:

    >I can’t agree, Mitali. “Protective” parents aren’t concerned that the library does not respect their world view; they’re worried that it respects others’ as well. In my years as a librarian, I never had a parent complain about what wasn’t in the collection.

  4. Mitali Perkins says:

    >I see your point. The complainers are the ones who don’t want to widen the choices of stories available for their kids — they want to commandeer control over narrow parameters for everybody. Naturally, their kids are reading the extra-steamy books under the covers.

    But aren’t there other parents who suspect the collection is vetted by a librarian with (as they see it) a particular “agenda?” The issue they have is trusting the person stocking the shelves, and they’re not even invested enough to complain or try to control. Unless the collection contains some content they can affirm as relevant and valuable, they probably won’t even take their kids to the public library. And they’ll feel alienated from a school library, too, if they don’t see a librarian buying some books that reflect their values.

    I’m into widening for the sake of building trust and relationships, and I’m not referring to my middle-aged hips — although they don’t lie, as Shakira keeps reminding me again and again.

  5. >And Mitali, it is a chilling thought that a librarian’s job is to speak into the life of a community or school. A library is there to disseminate information and to invite the community into the larger world. By speaking only into the community it narrows not just its vision but its possiblities for vision beyond its own borders. I cannot imagine a sadder use for it.

  6. Mitali Perkins says:

    >That’s what I meant by “speaking into,” offering the resources of a wide, rich world to a particular community. As well as listening.

  7. Debra Hamel says:

    >I’m a big believer in parents talking to their kids about the material they view and read. My daughter, now 10, has been watching “age-inappropriate” material on television forever. I don’t think this is bad. In fact, I think it can spark meaningful conversations between parents and their children. So if there were homophobic fascists manning the bookshelves then yes, I’d let her roam freely and read what she chose, because you can then talk about the issues raised in those books. And so far, at least, all the sex and violence hasn’t harmed her a bit: she’s turned out to be kind and broad-minded.

  8. >Debra, I know this discussing reading choices with your kids thing is the current good parenting choice but something about it makes my skin crawl. Because I don’t know that as a parent what I want to do is impress my own world view upon theirs or my experience on theirs. Yeha yeah, I know,you dont do this, you just discuss and your kids love to talk to you etc. It feels too much as if they never get to have any direct experience to sink of swim on their own. I know this sounds curmudgeonly because what’s wrong with talking to your kids? But good christ, it’s no wonder the kids book authors kill off the parents so the kids can have a little breathing space.

  9. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Anonymous, why do you post as anonymous? Are you the same anonymous who posted earlier? Respecting your privacy, but just curious …

  10. >Because, Mitali, I have had a long and lustrous career as a professional ice skater but I dont want that to influence anyone unduly.

  11. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Would love it if you used initials at least (I.S. for ice-skater, maybe?) so we could discern between all the incognito celebrities who join the discourse on blog posts like this one. Adieu for now.

  12. >Well, Im sorry Miltali, but I cant do that. I would not like to remind the librarians. It has been my experience that any mention of my profession makes them deeply despondent. After all, we all have our little opinions, but not all of us can skate.

  13. >Libraries should be a place where children can run happily afoul of their parents fears, aspirations, protection and authority. What better place to learn to think for yourself?

    It sounds good, but I don’t believe that you really believe that statement. If the library were the place where your child was learning to become a neo-Nazi or if your child were bringing home racist tracts from the library and reading them aloud to you in an attempt to “learn to think for himself,” you would be the first to ask the librarian what in the h— he thought he was doing when he placed these sorts of books in the library.

    Librarians censor more books than parents ever do. However, the librarians call it “selection.” I know because I attended library school, and that’s exactly what I was taught. When the a library patron questions the merit of a book in the library it’s called censorship; when librarians do the same BEFORE purchasing, it’s called selection. After purchasing, its called weeding the collection.

  14. Andy Laties says:

    >I checked “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X” out of the Penfield library when I was ten years old (1969), and had to renew it twice: it took me about six months to read it all the way through.

    I never told my parents I was reading it, although I don’t recall concealing it.

    I was attending a white middle-class mostly Republican school. My teacher saw it once, but I gathered from her look that she didn’t know what it was about. (Except she did comment that it was very long.)

    I didn’t understand all of it, (I probably didn’t understand MOST of it) but it was exciting and interesting and I got what I needed from it: reading that book was a huge, turning point experience for me.

    That book made me into a real troublemaker — for the rest of my life.

    The book was entirely inappropriate for a 10-year-old. Would I have been better off if I hadn’t read it? I guess I will never know. I certainly do know for sure that the librarian at that library didn’t comment when I checked the book out, nor when I renewed it, nor when I renewed it again. My experience was entirely private. I spoke to no adult about that book. If the librarian had any opinion I never learned it.

    I would certainly recommend that book wholeheartedly to all 10-year-olds. I’d also recommend any other book that any grownup thinks is inappropriate for children.

    Actually, I would say that the Banned Books list is an excellent booklist for any child. We could use a little move thoughtful rebellion among our children.

  15. Roger Sutton says:

    >Sherry–while I do take your point that librarians are completely capable of censorship under the name of “selection” or “weeding,” I think most of them are on the side of the angels (and kids). I imagine also that I would be completely capable of outrage at what my child might bring home from the library, but that doesn’t make me right. If a child wants Mein Kampf or Anne Frank’s diary, Rosemary’s Baby or The Babysitters’ Club, I say let ’em at ’em. Their parents’ feelings on the matter are not my business.

  16. >Sherry, I would be upset if my child became a neo nazi or a racist but not if he read their tracts. Becoming those things is not the same as knowing about them. With all the talk of trust in the beginning of the blog nobody talks about trusting the children. Trust them and leave them alone.

  17. >Actually, as a kid I did read Mein Kampf and Anne Frank and Nancy Drew and Herman Hesse and Beverly Cleary, though I must admit most of books #1 and 4 went right over my head. But then, I was a voracious reader. The librarians knew me, and my parents had signed a consent form saying I could check out whatever I wanted, from any part of the library.

    I think I’ll call my parents right now and thank them.

    BTW, we’re also blogging this over at our AS IF! (Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom!) sites . . .

  18. >It seems to me illogical to argue that a) parents should not oversee their child’s reading, or that b) children will somehow become something wildly different from their parents because they are let loose at the library. The notion smacks of the all too American idea that parents are inconsequential in the lives of their children. If a child goes to the library, reads, Mein Kampf, and turns to neo-Nazisim, it’s less because of the book being the seed than because the soil was tilled at home. Further, if in this debate you replace the word “books” with “movies” and say, “Go, children, to the cineplex and choose freely. Whether you gravitate toward Ang Lee and Robert Altman, or James Wan and other members of the ‘Splat Pack,’ it’s all good! You’re expanding your minds through exposure to the arts,” the community at large would call you, the parent, nuts. Parents should monitor what arts and literature their own children consume (though generally they don’t), while minding their own business when it comes to what other parents allow for their children (or at the very least keep their tut-tutting to themselves). To complain that parents want to stay in touch with, and possibly even censor from time to time, their children’s reading is, I daresay, a bit unreasonable. –m

  19. >I cannot comment on Lucky as I have yet to read the book. I managed to miss purchasing it for our collection, my bad, and it (or should I say they?) arrived in the tech services area yesterday. I have been following various lists and discussions concerning the title, including the Children’s bookshelf email article from yesterday, and am curious as to how a single word bears up against the entire novel. I grabbed a copy from the shelf to read this weekend. Time will tell.

    I am hoping that the definitions of collection development, weeding, and censorship were told to Sherry tongue in cheek during her time in grad school. There are so very many intangibles not detailed within those statements including, but not limited to, the library collection development policy (must be followed), the type of library making the purchase (it matters), and the mission and vision of the library in question. While it would be easy for me to be flippant and say “I buy what I want,” those intangibles must be considered before, during, and after any purchase made.

    I do not disagree the line between collection development and censorship is narrow, but in my opinion the distinction is there.

    ps –

    Hey ice skating anonymous; speaking as a librarian I have no hidden desires or rampant jealousy regarding your profession. Feel free to initial your comments, no one will blow your cover or toss you off of the blog. Promise.

  20. Debra Hamel says:

    >Anonymous wrote: “Because I don’t know that as a parent what I want to do is impress my own world view upon theirs or my experience on theirs. Yeha yeah, I know,you dont do this, you just discuss and your kids love to talk to you etc.”

    Well, actually, we don’t discuss books much. What books she does read tend to be rather bland, to tell you the truth. But if she came home with Mein Kampf or something I might discuss it because it would be an interesting discussion. Really my experiences stem more from television. We tend to watch a lot of television as a family, which prompts conversation, and there are a lot of shows we watch together that a lot of parents probably wouldn’t let their kids watch.

    On the other hand, you make “impressing one’s world views on your kids” sound like an evil. But isn’t that largely what we *are* doing as parents? Certainly we’re not bringing them up in a moral vacuum. You teach them what you think is right and wrong and what you think is the right way to go about living. And obviously some people go too far in that and some don’t go far enough, but the whole spectrum of “imposing your world view” is certainly not evil. In fact you’d be remiss not to do this to an extent.

    Meanwhile, if your kid is turning into a neo-Nazi I think the problem goes a lot deeper than whatever media he’s been ingesting.

  21. >Parents should monitor what arts and literature their own children consume, M, while leaving other parents alone? Let’s agree instead that probably as parents we will pass on our own values one way or another. My children were raised to see or read anything they like. They are charming, wonderful well rounded adults now, not a neo nazi in the bunch. I am sure yours are too. But mine will have a larger frame of reference.

  22. >Oh, and when they’re throwing writers in prison in, oh say, Cuba, they’ll understand why this is wrong. Because nobody taught them that some books were bad. Because nobody taught them that words, any words, were to be feared.

  23. >I don’t believe in pressing views on children, but I do believe in guidance.

    As children, my friend and I were both early and avid readers. We were allowed to check out books from the adult section of the public library because that was where the fantasy was kept. As you might imagine, fantasy was not all we read.

    At the start of our sixth grade year, we embarked on an ambitious project to index all book passages describing sex acts (fictional and non-), all medical descriptions of male and female body parts, and all other related texts. The previous year we had completed our “notebook” of obscene words and medical terminology pertaining to, you guessed it, body parts and sex. These were taken from a dictionary in our 5th grade classroom. I can assure you that we wouldn’t have bothered with Lucky and his scrotum.

    I don’t know what our parents would’ve done had they found out. I can imagine that it might have been humorous, had both of our mothers not been librarians. (Not that librarians don’t have a sense of humor–what I meant was that our mothers probably wouldn’t want their colleagues to know.)

    My point in this confession is that my friend and I learned more about sex from Stephen King than we did from our mothers. And that didn’t help us much in later life. We had, to say the least, odd views and expectations about adult relationships that I believe resulted in part from inundating ourselves with pornographic descriptions. That’s not to say that our mothers were prude, priggish, or unapproachable–they were very easy-going. We just didn’t want to discuss sex with them. A lot of children don’t. But I think we could’ve benefitted from those discussions.

    With regard to my own children, I don’t plan to censor their reading. But I would appreciate being told by the librarian if the book we are checking out has sensitive parts (no pun intended). Many times children just read words and internalize them, when they really need to be discussed.

    I view the act of reading as a conversation with the author. My children are young enough that they don’t have conversations with strangers outside of my presence.
    Would I let Susan Patron into my house to tell my daughter a story with the word “scrotum” in it? Sure, if I was present. Especially if Susan was charming and the story was good.

  24. Roger Sutton says:

    >Another reminder to the Anonymice–please i.d. yourself in some way so that we can keep you straight. I talk to strangers all the time but I won’t do it in the dark.

    M. remarks that it’s not unreasonable for parents to censor their children’s reading, much as the community (in the body of the MPAA) censors their movie viewing. You should be aware that the ALA regards the movie ratings as a form of “labelling” and recommends that they not be used to disallow young patrons from checking out R or NC-17 rated films. The ratings are set by a private body, not by the government (although they developed in part to keep the government out of the movie business’ hair) and while letting kids in to see an adult-rated movie can get a cinema in trouble with its overlords, it can’t get them–or the kid, or the parent–arrested.

    My point is really only that the library is a great place for kids to read and see things their parents don’t want them to. That makes me happy. I don’t think a librarian should tell parents if a book has something “sensitive” in it. That’s intrusive, bossy, and condescending–how’s the librarian to know what the parent deems sensitive? Put up AND shut up, that’s my motto.

  25. Andy Laties says:

    >I think it’s very important to understand that a lot of people are terrible at parenting.

    I used to run a children’s museum store that was located in a tourist mall that had ten million visitors every year. One book that I kept on the cash counter, right next to the cash register, as an impulse sales item, was “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk” (by Faber and Mazlish). Believe it or not, this book was one of my bestselling items. (In the middle of visiting a very crowded tourist site, many parents find themselves unable to communicate with their children and are at their wits end, and they would snap this book up!)

    Well, one of the things about having this book on the cash desk (I’m standing right behind the cash register in this story) was that on very busy days, when huge numbers of people were pushing through the store for hours on end, LOTS of people would be kind of swirling past the cash desk looking at products, picking things up, putting them down, and THIS is what about 5% of adults would say, as their eyes swept over the stack of copies of “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk”. The man OR woman (equally!) would pick a copy up off the stack of books, hold it up, say, sarcastically (to spouse or friend): “Look! Here’s a book that tells you how to get kids to listen! I’ll tell you how to get kids to listen!” And then this adult would wave the book like a paddle and say: “WHAP!!” They and their friend would laugh, and the adult would then TOSS the book contemptuously back onto the cash desk.

    I do not want the child of this parent to have her/his reading in any way controlled by their parent. And there are a LOT of adults like this. They are awful parents.

    Sure, the child is getting values from this adult. I want the child to have at least a chance of getting some DIFFERENT values. The library and the bookstore are great places for this to happen.

  26. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Roger says:

    “…the library is a great place for kids to read and see things their parents don’t want them to. That makes me happy. I don’t think a librarian should tell parents if a book has something ‘sensitive’ in it. That’s intrusive, bossy, and condescending–how’s the librarian to know what the parent deems sensitive?”

    Yes! I agree, but then doesn’t the flip side ALSO hold true?

    “…the library is a great place for kids to read and see things their parents want them to. That makes me happy. I don’t think a librarian should tell parents if a book has something ‘important’ in it. That’s intrusive, bossy, and condescending–how’s the librarian to know what the parent deems important?”

    If the second quote doesn’t hold true as well, I’m confused.

  27. says:

    >Sherry, would you please contact me? I have questions for you better asked offline. Thanks.

  28. Roger Sutton says:

    >Yes, they both hold true. In each instance we’re talking about unsolicited comments from the librarian. If a parent or any other patron asked me if a given book had sex or naughty words in it, I would certainly tell them (if I knew). If a parent or other patron similarly asked me for “a good book about the value of friendship,” say, I would give some suggestions. But I would no more say “your kid needs to read x” than I would say “your kid shouldn’t read y”. A book’s presence in the library’s collection means that the librarian thought it would have value for somebody, so the recommendation is inherent in its presence.

  29. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Back to book selection as our point of entry, then. How is including certain books over others in the collection not informing (bossily and intrusively) the community what the librarian thinks is important?

    Librarians were angels for this immigrant kid reader, there’s no doubt about that. We couldn’t afford to buy books in my days back in Flushing, so the library was my only ticket to stories. But what if my local librarian had been xenophobic, and the only books that lining the shelves denigrated my parents’ culture and beliefs? How long would it have taken this stack-wandering child to be consumed by self-hatred?

  30. >Roger writes:
    “M. remarks that it’s not unreasonable for parents to censor their children’s reading, much as the community (in the body of the MPAA) censors their movie viewing.”
    Just to clarify, and only because I’m no fan of the MPAA, my point was that *parents* ought to censor (I prefer to call it guidance, but others will view me as a censor) their children’s movie viewing. The MPAA has, in my view, a thoroughly backward and unusable approach to rating movies (sex=bad, violence=not so bad, violence without repercussion=not bad at all) and I personally disregard its ratings.

    Andy writes:
    “I do not want the child of this parent to have her/his reading in any way controlled by their parent. And there are a LOT of adults like this. They are awful parents.”
    The problem I have with taking this view, is that if it is ok to say, “these awful parents should not control their children’s reading,” then it becomes ok for the Christian Right to say, “you liberal parents shouldn’t control your children’s reading,” and the door to banning books is opened. Yes, some parents are decidedly out of their depth, some parents have scarily narrow viewpoints, some parents are liberal to an extreme. I simply feel that parents, regardless of skill level, have to be allowed to have full power to guide (or censor) their own children’s reading, if only to keep them from trying to guide (or censor) mine.
    If a child decides to sneak to the library for an afternoon of subversive reading, that’s for the parent to handle. However, there aren’t too many books these days out-tempting an afternoon spent locked in front of the cold blue glow of a computer screen, and it’s amazing how few people object to that. –m

  31. Andy Laties says:

    >Dear m,

    Good point. People who I consider to be awful parents (because they beat their children and make jokes about it) do indeed have opinions about ME, the non-child-beating parent. They think I’m too lenient. This reminds me of the George Lakoff book/theory that the Liberal/Conservative=Blue-State/Red-State divide in the U.S. is really all about differing parenting styles.

    Of course since Lakoff is a Liberal his theory is disdained by the Conservatives about whom he theorizes!

    So — the debate is not resolvable in its own terms. And: this is why we have recourse to our Constitution and Bill Of Rights. The argument was conducted, on our behalf, back in the 1780s and 1790s. People like James Madison explained the problem with Majority Rule, and developed a system to ensure that Minority Opinions would always remain untrampled (this is of course part of the reason that Rhode Island has the same number of Senators as California).

    My opinions on this blog sound bossy, no doubt. But the MEANING of my opinions is that I oppose bossiness, so it’s a bit too easy to get me to smile and be conciliatory.

    However, I do have a fairly strong backbone. I AM out there, selling books, promoting reading, encouraging others to do so. I continue to launch bookselling companies. Computers be damned: I vote for books, even if the general tide of popular activity is trending the opposite way. When parents and librarians act to censor books or control children’s reading, this is one more reason for children to escape to the internet, where they are generally left alone. Nothing will keep children from reading so much as bossy parents.

    I may be a Liberal with a capital L, but I don’t think Conservative parents have any solution for the incursion of the internet into their children’s psyche’s. Book-banning advocates should be delighted when their children choose the library — however uncensored its collection — over the internet.

    (Mind you, my argument has the corollary that I actually LOVE the uncensorable character of the internet! It’s just that I think that books offer a realm of experience that is different: powerfully mediated, brilliantly and energetically perfected and shaped.)

  32. >Interesting yet endless debate.

    Also, it is always a fun aside to note an interesting correllation: Frequently the groups that wish to ban books are the groups who stand firm on their right to bear arms.

    How does that make sense? Well, in some ways books and guns are distinctly related.

    Both book bannings and the insistence on the right to have guns, grow out of fear. Fear and logical thinking do not normally inhabit the same thought. An unfortunate situation.

    As for me…Ban guns, not books.


  33. >M, I would balance the worry of misinformation with the glory of freedom and privacy and the great adventure of discovering things for yourself through your own eyes and all the great adventures therein and the worry would lose every time.

  34. >A book’s presence in the library’s collection means that the librarian thought it would have value for somebody, so the recommendation is inherent in its presence.
    Oh, gosh, Roger! If I am to provide my patrons with the books and DVDs they want, I have to provide a certain number of things that I personally think have little or no value. I only hope that while they are snapping up their Strawberry Shortcake book (and sniffing it–mmmm, strawberries!) they will also pick up Knuffle Bunny. I would hate to think that you would walk through my library and think that the selectors recommended everything in there.

  35. >To be sure, I’m a fan of the internet and movies, as well as books. I only wish the publishing industry would fight fire with fire and put a little coin behind the marketing of its product. I spend a lot of time in public schools and, funny thing, parents watch tv commercials. But that’s another debate. Anyway, my last on this topic is to note that the NYT weighs in on LUCKY and its scrotum:
    I’m shutting down now. Taking my daughter to a play. How anachronistic 😉 –m

  36. Andy Laties says:

    >M — I agree with you that the contest between books and mass-media/internet isn’t an equal contest. But I do not agree that publishers should spend more to promote books. I explain in the most recent post on my blog why all that’s needed to restore books to a central place in our culture is for publishers to STOP spending the way the spend right now on promoting and distributing books. In particular, books should not be sold to retailers on a “returnable” basis, since this would transform the distribution process.

  37. Roger Sutton says:

    >Well, SDL, I would hate to walk into any library and think that its contents were based on the librarian’s personal tastes and/or values. Putting a book in a library collection doesn’t mean you like it, it means you think it belongs there.

    And thus, yes, Mitali, book selectors have to make sure they are not selecting materials based on their own personal values. This is why libraries have collection development policies that identify the factors (who lives in the community being served, for example) that selection must take into account.

  38. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Do you have to have an MLS to know that “collection development policies that identify the factors (who lives in the community being served, for example) that selection must take into account”? I, for one, never realized that this was a common practice.

    Pardon more evidence of my ignorance, but does each public and/or school district library set their own collection development policies and procedures, or is there an industry standard? And are community members typically invited to collaborate in such a process? How does one change and/or reform selection policies?

    If these questions sound too basic and wearying to you librarian types, could you please refer a lay person like me to an article or website that might provide some insight into standard selection practices?

    Thanks so much.

  39. Roger Sutton says:

    >Mitali–here’s a good overview (sorry I don’t know how to put links in comments):

  40. Mitali Perkins says:

    >Thanks, Roger. Here’s the direct link to that excellent overview page about collection development policies.

    FYI, to add a link in the comments section, use this code:

    (a href=”URL”)words to be linked(/a)

    Replace the open and close parentheses with brackets <>

    Replace the letters URL with the URL address where you want to send people, usually beginning with http://

    Watch, after all this, my own link probably won’t work.

  41. >A collection development policy must necessarily be developed at the school district level because it has to be consistent with the mission statement and policies of the district itself. In addition, whatever force the collection development policy has comes from its being approved by the school board which then delegates responsibility to its employee, the school library media specialist, to operate the school library media center in conformance with that policy. The collection development policy should provide a rationale for selection decision making and — if written properly as to having a consistent procedure to be followed — will protect against an administrator or school board member being able to arbitrarily and summarily walk into the library and permanently remove resources without a process being followed to review the materials being challenged.

  42. >So, then, what I have been trying to determine of those school librarians involved in this debate is this:

    1. Do you have a written collection development policy?
    2. Are you or are you not including The Higher Power of Lucky in your collection?
    3. What is the most relevant phrase, sentence, or passage in your collection development policy that you would point to if you are asked why you are or are not including it in your collection?

    I’ve posted these questions to several lists and am curious what the response will be. I have no concept as to what portion of the nation’s school library media centers operate with written policies and what portion do not.

  43. >It is astoundidng how many truly stupid people there are in the world. To know that some of them are librarians is not comforting.

  44. rindawriter says:

    >Everyone above keeps talking about how parents should discuss books with their children, talk with their children about books.

    Did anyone ever consider that maybe, just maybe parents ought to be LISTENING to their children talk about books rather than talking at them about books? And ask questions of the children about “What do you think?, What do you like? Why? Tell me more.”

    You adults just don’t get it. You must LISTEN to children. You must let them TEACH you about themselves, what they like, what they are concerned about.

    Beleive me, if you listen, they’ll talk. You won’t be able to shut them up. Once children find out that I will listen, really listen to them as a adult, believe me they don’t shut up…

    I suspect many a sensitive, understanding librarian does listen and ask questions more than talk to children about the books they read–and repsects the privacy of such listening and talking. Which makes for a safe but very free and very private environment for a child in a library.

    I’m grateful my parents let me read as I wished, but I do wish too sometimee, they had listened more to me talk about what I read.

  45. >As a parent (and a children’s book publisher) I am intrigued with the arguments, discussions and comments regarding this “controversy.” Why anyone would question the use of a body part (called by its correct name) in a book for children is beyond me.

    But what really kills me about this entire debate is the idea of encouraging children to read. Let’s not take all the fun out of reading by telling children what they can or cannot read, what they should read or what WE feel is quality literature. If we want children to grow up to think for themselves then why not let them start in the library – the safeset place in the world to learn about life.

    I feel bad for any teacher / librarian who has ever had to deal with an angry parent who is offended with a book that their child may or may not get their hands on. My feeling is that they just need someone to blame. After all, who are they going to go cry to about what’s showing on their TV – sex and violence are everywhere – but since there’s no one person “responsible” there’s no reason to complain, right?

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