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Celebrating Banned Books Week

Is there any better time to find out one of your books has been challenged than Banned Books Week? I don't think so.

When I said that to my husband this morning, he wanted to know which book. As though I've published more than one book that people find objectionable enough to challenge.

I said, "which one do you think?"

He guessed this one:


Very few people have actually read Alexandra Hopewell, Labor Coach. Or even heard about it. I know...people who challenge books don't have to read the book to know it shouldn't be in the library. (I sat on a challenge committee years ago and actually heard a challenger say that: "I don't have to read the book to know it doesn't belong in the library.") But they do have to know it exists.

And even if people did know about Alexandra Hopewell, Labor Coach, there isn't anywhere near as much to complain about in that book as there is in this one:

To my knowledge this book has been challenged in Kansas, Indiana, and now Georgia. One of the schools moved it to an area where kids couldn't check the book out without a note from a parent. I don't believe it's actually been removed from a collection anywhere.

This is a very naughty book. It contains words like bladder, penis, fallopian tube, and vagina. Even worse, there are pictures! Children not only discover that they actually have some of these parts, they also learn where those parts are:

It gets worse. Elizabeth asks this fateful question:

(By the way, the words are mine...the pictures are not. The artist is the very talented Carol Thompson, from Leicestershire, England.)

And Elizabeth's mother tells her the truth:

The above is the page people object to most often.

I am the first to admit that this book is not for everyone. I didn't write it for everyone; I wrote it for families with precocious children who ask questions like "where do babies come from?" and "how does the baby get in there?" Some kids ask those questions at age four. Others ask them at age eight. Others never ask...and sadly, some of those kids have parents who follow a don't-ask-don't-tell policy when it comes to sex ed. That is their right. Personally, I believe in talking openly and honestly with kids. I would rather my children receive accurate information from me than inaccurate information from their peers. But that's just me.

If your child isn't ready for this information, or you're not ready to discuss it (I also wrote this book for parents to read WITH their children rather than for kids to read on their own), then by all means, DON'T READ IT! It is your right as a parent (maybe even your obligation) to choose what is and isn't appropriate for your child. But you do not get to make that decision for everybody else's child. If everybody in the world could remove books from the library that were objectionable to them for any reason, there wouldn't be much left in the library.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)
Great post
Dori -- Great post. And it is fun that this happened during banned books week. My first daughter asked specifically about this topic when she was four. I thought about being evasive or just not answering, but I decided to tell her the truth in very simple terms. I'll never forget her response. "Well. I can see why most people only have one or two children, because you wouldn't want to do THAT very often."

Pat Zietlow Miller
Sep. 28th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Great post
One of my kids asked at age 4, the other asked at age 5. Their responses were very similar to your daughter's.

I figure you set the stage for future conversations with your kids by how you answer (or don't answer) those first questions.
Sep. 28th, 2010 01:10 am (UTC)
Wow ... your explanation is beautiful. I've seen books that are a LOT more graphic ... one that even went into positions ... for the same age group.

Sex in itself is not dirty. People can make it so. But I think teaching children that is is something special and beautiful and good is important. And I agree .... all books are not for everybody. But you don't have a right to tell others what they can and cannot read.
Sep. 28th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And I agree with you (obviously!). I think what's lacking in most sex ed. programs are the emotions that go along with sex. It's not just mechanics and hormones.
Sep. 28th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)
This was a really good entry, and this looks like an excellent resource for parents who want to explain this to their children in a tasteful way.

Sep. 28th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Hey, did I see your name on the kidlitcon roster?
Sep. 28th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
You did. I'm driving up Friday, and I'll be there Saturday and Sunday.

Sep. 28th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
Is it still going on on Sunday? I thought it was just Saturday. I'm not sure when I'm going up yet...either the Thursday or Friday of that week. I'd suggest carpooling, but I plan to visit family on the way. I'll see you there, though!
Sep. 28th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
You could well be right that it is not Sunday. I just didn't know for sure when I wrote the email.

As for carpooling, I'm bringing the husband along, so he can see some friends while I'm conferencing, so it wouldn't have worked for me either.

Looking forward to seeing you again.

Sep. 28th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
So what's the juicy big deal about Alexandra Hopewell, Labor Coach? Why would banners be banning it if they knew about it?
Sep. 28th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
There's a childbirth scene in it. The main character helps deliver her mom's baby on the bathroom floor.
Sep. 29th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Banned book
And how many of these people who ban books don't worry about what their kids are watching on TV in prime time? Since I don't watch TV often--though I love movies--I am occasionally shocked at what is allowed to show when little kids would be up.

Hang in there, Dori!
Sep. 30th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: Banned book
I don't know. I just don't understand why people think that not talking about these things with their kids is protecting them. You arm a kid with knowledge, not ignorance.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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