Banned Books by Roy Richard

August 2022

I would like to begin with a quote by the award winning Sherman Alexie, a Native American novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and filmmaker:

 “I believe in any kid’s ability to read any book and form their own judgments. It’s the job of a parent to guide his/her child through the reading of every book imaginable. Censorship of any form punishes curiosity.”

When we first send our children off to school to begin that natural journey of learning, most of us feel a tug in our hearts that is a desire to protect them from all dangers. We worry about the chain of events that will bring them from the kindergarten class to the stage at graduation. Each year as they advance through the education system many of the fears are no longer thought of. They mature, grow, blossom if you will, into their identities. Learn lessons about not only higher learning but abut life. After all the goal, is it not, to see that nervous child boarding the bus, turn into an adult, ready to face the world?

What we learn through these experiences is that we cannot control every aspect of their lives. They are going to fall and skin their knees. Have their hearts broken by first loves. Feel left out by the group. Stay up too late. In other words they are going to live their life. And living that life means facing each day and coping with any issues that arise.

If we take away their ability to form their own judgments about what they encounter in life we leave them unprepared for survival in the world.

I am blessed in that I have three amazing and extraordinary granddaughters. The oldest, a partial product of Davison Schools recently left for college. When she was around eleven years old, she began to take part in adult conversations at the dinner table. She freely expressed her views and opinions on many of the topics that came up. Politics? She had a view! Various forms of government? She had an opinion! Music from my generation? She seemed to know it! Equality? Unions? Genders? She could, as time progressed speak on these all!

At first I thought it was cute and that obviously someone else was putting their beliefs on her. Amazingly though as I begin to take her statements seriously and listen to her voice, I came to realize that she was researching these topics and making her own decisions! You see her Father and Mother did not necessarily censor her curiosity. If a topic interested her, she had free rein to look at the facts, ALL the facts from every available angle. If the data she had gleaned needed clarifying, she had the support of her parents, her grandparents and her teachers to help find that clarity. From all this she would make an informed choice and only would then begin to share her opinions and beliefs.

When I heard of the recent decision of the Davison School Board to ban additional books, I spoke out on Social Media about how wrong it was.  Some of my friends sent me excerpts from the texts to try and persuade me into agreeing with this decisions and I must admit that at first I began to wonder if maybe the correct decision had been made. So I made the next logical decision and that was to obtain the books and read them myself.

To date I have read four of the titles and cannot for the life of me understand why they come under attack. Yes the one is very graphic and from it is the small samples that I was sent. But when you read it in its context it fits and adds to the literature.

Taking away from our children, our young adults an opportunity to find answers to their inquires is nothing but abominable. You are handicapping a generation of young minds; Minds that we hope will run this country one day. When a parent asks a board to do such a thing, they are all but admitting that they cannot parent their children and are looking for someone else to do it. In addition the greater injustice of these circumstances is that your actions are not only depriving one mind of answers but many minds.

In closing I would leave you with the words of the American writer Judy Blume “Having the freedom to read and the freedom to choose is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me.”

Thank You

Roy Richard

Copyright Roy Richard

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