Sean Devlin

Are we still banning books? I was under the impression that we’ve moved past this old-world mindset that hides behind a false curtain of morality. Turns out, some people in Sauk Prairie School District recently attempted to place their school in a time machine to a more wholesome era.

This past school year, multiple parents grew concerned about the ‘adult content’ of “The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and thought the book ill-suited for a freshman class. (All quotes from The Sauk Prairie Eagle.)

One individual maintained, “It’s important for parents to be able to decide whether or not their child should select an alternate book, if offered.”

Educators are trained to think in the best interest of their students. Also, offering that “alternative book” may only alienate that child, while adding to the workload of the educator.

 Not every decision made by an instructor is the correct one; however, these bans seem to happen in the standard white, middle-class areas when books deal quite heavily with themes of sex, drugs, violence, and other cultures. Not always the case, but often it is. 

These themes are ones that every teen faces. Some face these hardships on higher levels, but a piece of fiction is meant to build a bridge of empathy for a mind to see how another person – or representation of a person – deals with the rolling hills of life.

Concerning the ‘adult language’ of the novel, another parent stated, “My daughter didn’t feel comfortable writing those specific words down so she wrote page numbers. She didn’t do well [writing the essay] because she didn’t cite specific examples.”

We all know the phrase “words have power.” I fail to understand why we continue to hide from words, label letter combinations as taboo rather than teach children the meaning, all intents, and ways to reverse that power and master language. It is then the duty of educators and parents to listen to the child’s interpretation of a story and go from there. 

If we make it taboo, they will pine for it. 

Let’s look back, when a book is banned, it later comes off that list because the realization sets in that shielding a perspective can lead to an ugly encounter with the real world later.

Books offer a cultural perspective that many children don’t get early on in life, so why hide them from it? Just so they can learn later is not a valued reason. 

Educators grew up in the system they try to improve every day, let’s allow them to do that rather than holding the little ones a bit too tight. 

Another comment made was this, “Unfortunately the message of this hope is literally drowned out by the shocking words of profanity, sexual innuendo and violence.”

Let the child be the decider of this. Let them think. To be continued.