Every year we hear about a parent or student refusing to read a book because of the content. This has been a point of contention among teachers, administrators, and parents. If you are a concerned parent or student thinking about objecting to a required book here are some tips/steps before you make that plunge:
1. Read the book in its entirety.
• Going off of blurbs or word of mouth is not the best way to make a decision regarding any aspect of life, so do not do it in this instance. Read the entire book, highlight passages you deem inappropriate, leave the book alone for a few days and then come back. Write down why these passages are inappropriate. Reread your written response, are the reasons because they make you uncomfortable? That’s a good thing, that is what education is for, to challenge your view of thinking and consider another. A class that provokes preconceived ideals tend to be the best class.
2. Speak to the teacher
• These are professionals, they have a reason for assigning the book. Share your concerns with highlighted passages and ask how this book relates to the larger lesson. Usually their reasons speak to a larger issue, for example, reading about a female body part is not meant to be pornographic but requires discussion on the subjugation of female body parts throughout history/society. Take another day or so to take all the information in and think about what the teacher has said.
3. Final decision
• After going through these steps make your decision. If you still are not satisfied and feel uncomfortable with yourself or your child reading the book find an alternative book for YOUR child. You may feel your child is not ready for the subjects chosen but it is not your authority to make this decision for other students in his/her class. Just as you expect your parental decision to be respected you must do the same for parents who do not mind their child reading the book.
4. Find an alternative book
• If you decide to not allow your child to read the required book it is up to you to find a book that meets the same requirements the other book has. Keep communication open with your child’s teacher in finding alternative assignments that is equal to the assignments that will be given regarding the original book. *If you are a college student there is no other option, you are an adult and college is meant to challenge all that you believe…in a good way. If you object to a book reevaluate your reasons for being in college. It is ok to disagree with your professor, in fact it is encourage, a college education requires you to reevaluate (constantly) your position and defend it with empirical data, if you refuse to engage in this type of challenge I suggest you reevaluate your reasons for entering college. *
Do realize that banning a book outright for the entire class or school is subjugating others to subscribing to your belief’s. That is not what school is for. If you do not think a book is appropriate for your child, that is fine but be sure to be self reflective in your convictions. If your convictions come from a preconceived idea of gender roles, race, sexual orientation or anything that is considered 'other' please realize that you may possibly be perpetuating stereotypes.