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Kids Talk About Banned Books

While driving with four Grands in my van, their discussion about a Harry Potter book made me think of banned books and recent columns my friend, Jennie Ivey, wrote.  So, here’s another column about banned books – this one from my Grands’ perspectives.

            “Have you talked about banned books in school or at home?” I asked. 

            “What’s a band book?” said my 8-year-old Grand. 

To simplify this writing, the children are identified by age.  Because I was concentrating on driving – not writing notes during the conversation or who said what – quotes may not be exact, but are close.

“Gran said banned books.  Not band books.  Banned comes from b-a-n. Ban.” age 15 said.

“So, what’s a ban?” asked 8. 

The 11 and 13-year-olds giggled.  “Ban means to not allow.”

“Like Gran might ban candy and we can’t have any.”

“We can’t have candy!” 8 asked.  Everyone laughed.

“We can have candy,” 15 said. “That was just a way to say what ban means.  A banned book isn’t allowed to be read.”

“Why couldn’t you read a book?” 8 asked.

I tried to explain, “Sometimes people think a book shouldn’t be read because it might be scary or include things that are aren’t real or death. Like “Charlotte’s Web” because animals talk and they die.”

“But that’s just fiction if it’s not real,” 11 said.

“Then I guess “Animal Farm” would definitely be a banned book and not just because animals talk. I read it for school,” said 15. 

“You read it for school so it’s not banned. Right?” asked 11.

Through several questions and explanations, I think everyone understood that a book can be banned from some schools and public libraries, like the Putnam County Library, but not all schools and libraries. “So, we can still buy a banned book or get it online?  If Momma says we can?” Yes and yes.

“Do you know some banned books, Gran?”  13 asked. When I said that Harry Potter books are banned in some places, my Grands reacted and I listened.

“What! That’s crazy. Why?”

“Probably the spells and witches.”

“And the Quidditch games and riding on broom sticks.”

“And Voldemort and all the mean stuff he does.”

“But it’s all pretend. It’s fiction.  Everybody knows that.”

“Maybe some people think it’s real.”

“Why? Nobody rides on broom sticks in the sky to play a game.”

These children have read the Harry Potter books and watched the movies at home with their parents and siblings.  After a few minutes of talk about favorite scenes and who has read which books and seen which movies, the van was quiet. We were almost home.

Thirteen-year-old ended the discussion. “That’s really sad that somebody couldn’t get to read Harry Potter books.  There’s lots of imagination and fun and the books are a whole lot better than the movies.”

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