by Alan Gratz, published 2017
“All through math I sucked on my braids and imagined all the awful things that would happen if I was caught with all those books in my locker. Every parent…would like up to sue me.”
And, you might ask, what are those books in her locker? Captain Underpants, Harriet the Spy, From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler, Matilda, ..and more… In other words, any perfectly normal children’s book that contemporary kids might enjoy. It’s hard to imagine anyone banning a children’s book because it has the word poop in it, or because someone has a childish prank to sneak into a museum. Yet the premise behind this children’s book about banning books, is pretty profound. Who has the right to decide what books your children get to read?
There is so much to be said about this funny and profound children’s book that the best advice I can offer is – read it, and share it with your kids. Then have a family discussion. The book is more than just about the misguided act of censorship. It’s also about helping children develop the skills to stand up for what is right It is more than anything a story about learning that not doing anything in the face of a wrong is not okay. One must do something- maybe the something differs from person to person. But we do want to instill in our children the importance of words and action.
Along the way, the heroine of this children’s book also learns to find her voice. That means beyond the issue of banning books, speaking to her parents about what hurts her, and letting herself be seen. Perhaps that is one of the gifts of confronting things bigger than oneself- we grow bigger in the process.