You know what makes me angry? Aside from lite jazz? When parents feel the need to step in and censor childrens’ libraries. This time, not only the thesaurus, but Anne Frank is under attack.
Unlike other editions, this version contains sexual references. Apparently Anne Frank’s father, who survived the Holocaust, also felt the need to censor his daughter’s most intimate thoughts. He eliminated about a third of the original diary published in 1947.
Here’s what I really hate about this kind of censorship: it makes kids unprepared for the real world. How do I know this? I learned 90% of what I didn’t learn about physically (and mentally) growing up in health class from books like Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, and anything by V.C. Andrews. Once, when I was nine, I asked my parents how the whole baby thing goes down and my mom let me check out a book from the library that described the process in cartoons for kids. I never had to ask her again.
Judging from the comments to the awesome (but now unfortunately defunct) series Fine Lines on Jezebel, that’s how most girls my age learned about sexuality, the fertility cycle, and boy stuff. Here are Lizzie Skurnik’s fond remembrances of Are You There, God, and The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.
How many times have you learned something from a book that sticks with you in a way that something from class never does and that you can apply in real life? From A Little Princess and The Secret Garden I learned that British people lived in India and the word memsahib and about English moors and London fog. From Are You There, God, I learned that there were other half-Jews just like me that felt in two separate worlds, and from Heidi, I learned about the Alps of Switzerland and when I actually did go to Switzerland the book and Alm Uncle was playing in my mind the whole time.
How are kids ever going to learn anything real and non sugar-coated if we keep censoring things from them? Granted, there is a time and place for everything, but I can’t say that I was scarred from the fact that my mom let me run wild over all of the sections of the public library. Are we supposed to ban books every time they contain sexuality and “inappropriate” scenes as determined by a group of angry overprotective parents? Like the fact that Are you There, God talks about the word menstruation (menst-ROO-ation) or that The Hobbit contains multiple scenes of death? Or this other list of tons of banned books that are essential to the cannon of Western literature?
I’m not a parent yet so maybe I’m missing something, but this whole situation just seems sad to me.