Why do individuals attempt to ban a book from a school or public library instead of simply not reading it themselves or instructing their children not to read it? Recently a picture book titled And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson made a big splash and a bit of controversy as well. Tango is a penguin with two daddies. Besides getting rave reviews the book also took the top spot as being the most challenged book in 2007. What are your thoughts about the book?
Librarians, especially those in public and school libraries, are on the front line in the freedom to read war. If a library doesn't order a book or put it on the shelf then a book is effectively banned before anyone has had a chance to even crack the cover. It's not easy. There is a lot of incentive to play it safe and avoid the controversial. Sometimes fighting the good fight can be a lonely business. In my earlier professional life I was a media specialist for a school district. I tried to do what I thought was in the best interests of the children I was servicing. I certainly wasn't perfect and I wasn't always as brave as I wanted to be, but I always thought of the kids first. That's probably why a high school teacher checked out Forever by Judy Blume from the school library and then never returned it because they thought it was inappropriate.
Sometimes book challenges can be positive experiences. The only formal challenge I've ever had to deal with occurred at an elementary school. A parent had a concern over the illustrations in an older edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that to her depicted the oompa loompas in a racist light. What did I do? I bought a more modern, newer edition of the book that would be more attractive to students and thanked her for bringing it to my attention. And yes, I removed the older, worn out title from the shelf.
Do you think there is ever a situation that warrants banning a book or other item from a library?