I am not just a librarian, I am also a mom of 2 daughters. Every now and again, my roles collide into a serendipitous teaching moment.
Recently, I took my youngest daughter (aged 8) to the New York Public Library to see the exhibit “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” It is a stunning exhibit that uses “…a dynamic array of objects and activities, the exhibition celebrates the extraordinary richness, artistry, and diversity of children’s literature across cultures and time.” There are all sorts of aspects to the exhibit that charmed me as a librarian, and my daughter as a reader. She posed gleefully in the bedroom from Goodnight Moon. She crept straight through a wild thing. She loved the words on Milo’s map.
But what stopped her in her tracks? The banned books. After explaining to her what banning books means, she nodded her head and then came back with, “Wait….what?!?” She didn’t understand why some of her favorite titles were stacked up there so high. She walked quietly through the section, looking intently at defaced illustrations, and she tried to puzzle through. At the end she said to me, “But mommy…if someone doesn’t like a book, or doesn’t like the ideas in a book, why don’t they just stop reading it themselves?”
Out of the mouths of babes.
During the week of September 22-28, we will be starting a new tradition in my house. Each night we will sit down as a family and read a banned book. And we will spend some time reflecting on our own freedom to read.