A 3-Step Approach to Protecting Your Child without Banning Books

Communicating with your child about what they're reading can be a better approach than banning books at the library.

Rather than ban books, consider strategies that support your child’s needs while allowing others the freedom to read.

Is this your situation? You’re a parent, and either your child checks out a book or their class is reading something you think is too much for them. You do not want to take the extreme approach of banning it but are uncertain about how to move forward. There is a positive, less all-or-nothing option that both protects your kid and keeps that book available to others who might find it enjoyable, moving, or helpful. Here are three steps you can take to give you peace of mind while still ensuring that your child gets the benefits of reading.

Step One: Read the Book

Books are a demanding medium. It’s easy to take a clip out of the warmer mediums of movies or TV shows and based on a variety of cues—including costumes, tone of voice, and body language—determine the time period and if it is adult-facing content or appropriate for families. Reading is a colder act. You get only the words on the page and the author’s skill with them. Because of that, picking scenes out of context presents a distorted picture. Giving the book a read allows you to see how problematic elements fit into the story as a whole. You might still find it inappropriate for your child, but at least you understand a bit better the author’s choice to include them in their story.

Take action today to support libraries!

Step Two: Make an Appointment to Speak with the Teacher or Librarian

The reasons for your concerns may vary. Some kids are naturally more sensitive than others. Maybe there is a situation happening in your family right now that makes the book triggering at this moment in time. Maybe there is a past trauma you worry will come up. Whatever it is, your child’s teacher and your local librarian ARE allies. Make an appointment, explain your concerns, and together make a plan. You can find quality materials together that keep your child reading but remove your concerns.

Step Three: Talk to Your Child

Kids notice more than we sometimes realize, and when they see something happening that affects them, such as a librarian saying no or having to read a different book than their classmates, they create a story to explain it. Sadly, most of the time in that story, things are happening because they have done something wrong. Explaining what is happening, in language they understand, helps to both remove this worry AND allows you to talk about the values and concerns that lead to you making this choice at this time.

Books are more than just words and pictures. They are containers of ideas. And ideas have power. That is why books get banned. However, some ideas are only a problem at a certain moment in a child’s life. If so, your local librarian and teacher can help. After all, we all want the same thing: to keep your child safe while helping them become the amazing people they are meant to be.

Sign the petition to fight book bans!

Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries. 

#librarymarketers: Enjoy this story? Want to use it for your library newsletter, blog, or social media? This article is published under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International and is free to edit and use with attribution. Please cite EveryLibrary on medium.com/everylibrary.

This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0