Feb20

Is it Censorship if You Just Don't Buy the Book?

Categories // Books

Parental Censorship or Economic Voting

Censorship or Not

Is it parental censorship if you don't buy the book? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Last year on 4 June 2011, Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote a thoroughly provocative article in the Wall Street Journal about young adult fiction. Unlike many who read Ms. Gordon’s column, I smiled as I read it. I wonder if any of her articles have gotten more feedback. I have never censored my daughter’s library choices, never flat out said she couldn’t read a specific book she wanted. I did draw the line at buying books I felt were inappropriate. When Lisa Johnson, my daughter's second grade teacher suggested Harry Potter was not age appropriate for most seven year olds, I held off another year before purchasing any of the series for her. I never said my daughter couldn’t read it or check it from either the school library or the public library, I just didn't buy it. We both read the first Harry Potter the next year when she was eight. Over time I bought and we read them all. Generally instead of reading the newest blockbusters, our house was filled with books she might or might not read, many of which have been out of print for decades. By having scads of books available all the time at her fingertips, the young adult section of the library wasn’t such a big draw.

It has always been a tremendous pleasure to purchase books for my daughter, fabric books, board books, big books, little books, picture books, series books, classics, new books, used books, all kinds. One book was so big, Richard Scarry’s, Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, she could barely hold it.

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

She would put it on the floor, opened wide to read and of course search for the little tiny yellow Goldbug on each double page set. She read that book into tatters. I wrote the publisher and explained this book was so good, it needed to be sturdier and ours was irretrievably broken. They sent a replacement copy. She read it two more years. What a wonderful company. This is a book I would recommend for any baby shower or any child up to five or six years old. It is a keeper.

There are wonderful books with female protagonists, children, teenagers or young adults.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

Margaret Sidney, a pseudonym for Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop, wrote twelve Pepper books. I have almost all of them, nearly all of which begin the Five Little Peppers and...

 Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi, the granddaughter in the original story, was written by Johanna Spyri and translated by Charles Tritten. Tritten also wrote two sequels to the Heidi story, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi's Children.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Polly Pepper in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Heidi and Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, all come to mind, interesting young girls' stories written by women. I read them as a child and reread them as an adult. I have collected more since I had a daughter. I didn’t like the gritty books being published as she was growing up and I wanted her to love to read. I think there are more moms who would like to buy books for their daughters, but just can’t bear to purchase many of those currently being published.

If you feel this way too, go to your local used book stores and start getting the out of print books you read and liked as a child. I use ABE Books, Amazon and Alibris sometimes, but you can't always tell if the books were previously owned by smokers. You can tell at your local bookstore.

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Ida Sherwood Bettis is my paternal grand mother. Aunt Clara is my great aunt. I can remember every nooks and crany of that house and yard...

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