not preparation for life, but life itself

I am arguing for the rights of all books in the public education system.

(Okay, maybe except for Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Twilight…like, look at this one paragraph. Look at it and cry. )


Aro started to laugh. “Ha, ha, ha,” he chuckled. 

Annie agreed this writing was terrible. “I agree this writing is terrible,” she agreed.

Anyways, onto the rest of the post…

A little over a year ago, Highland Park ISD suspended seven books after “parents challenged their content because of sex scenes and references to rape, abuse and abortion. In emails and at meetings, parents said high school students should not be exposed to some of the hardships and controversies of adulthood. More than 100 people packed a school board meeting this month. Parents and grandparents brought books flagged with sticky notes. They read excerpts of sex scenes, references to homosexuality, a description of a girl’s abduction and a passage that criticized capitalism. They sent hundreds of emails to district officials” (The Dallas Morning News).


Ok. Let me introduce myself. I am Annie, and I am 19 years old. Last year for my 18th birthday, I wish someone had bestowed upon me the secrets of transforming into an adult. Or, since that obviously didn’t happen, can someone explain to me what makes the 17 years and 11 month old me a child and the 18 year old me an adult?

Nothing, I’d say. In the end, the legal age of an adult is just an arbitrarily chosen number.

The distinction between the legal definition of an adult and a child is all too clear. 17? Child. 18? Adult.  Ok, that may be fine for legal purposes, but we absolutely cannot have that clear-cut division in reality. Adulthood is the accumulation of childhood experiences. No one can be thrust into adulthood and maturity, and especially not into the real world without any preparation. That’s what’s growing up is for.

Turn on the radio. It’s the same content: ISIL, Syrian unrest, Zika, homosexuality, abortions and the goddamn elections (or just politics in general). These are the problems of the world now. These will be our problems in a few years.

Of course reality is not a pretty picture. No one wants to be constantly surrounded by content such as rape, abuse and the hardships and controversies of adulthood. But if we are going to be the future, as grown-ups are so fond of reminding kids, then we cannot have everything sugarcoated for us. When we’re not exposed to these hardships, we end up becoming desensitized towards them.

Take the anti-feminists. To quote some of their arguments, “I make my own decisions without being pressured” and “I reject feminism because I am not a victim of society” (Take a look at it yourself here.) The main problem here is the egocentric view so prominent in our society nowadays. Sure, these girls may not be victims of rape, of abuse, of society, but that doesn’t mean no one else suffers. We’re not suffering from civil unrest, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that it’s happening in many countries. I’m not suggesting that we should feel any less fortunate, but I am suggesting that this lack of exposure has numbed us into insouciance.

One of the books banned is Jeannette Walls “The Glass Castle.” Walls’ memoir (which I happened to read last year in school) is about growing up in poverty with a father who spent his money on alcohol and a mother who became homeless. In response to the district’s ban, Walls said, “My book has ugly elements to it, but what I worry is that in order to protect them, we may be taking away the tools they need to protect themselves later on.”

She notes that despite these ugly elements, the story is essentially about hope and resilience. “Sometimes you have to walk through the muck to get to the message,” she said.

Like sex scenes. These are probably the most controversial. I would just like to point out two things. 1. It’s not as if these occurrences are the central ideas of the story. (Unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. And that, is rightfully banned from schools. If not for the cringe-worthy sex scenes, the terrible writing LOL.) If  we can’t see past that one paragraph and on to the true themes, then we need our priorities fixed. 2. Sex is a part of human nature, and once again, what makes a 18 year old more qualified to know more about it than a 17 year old? They’re more mature? Really? Besides, my school had “The Talk” back in fourth grade.

Education isn’t meant to be only about “All the Beautiful Times”; it’s meant to reflect reality and allow us to formulate our own well-rounded analysis and thoughts before we enter the adult world and begin inputting our advice as well.

This year, I’ll be able to vote. “Represent!” everyone told me.

My thirteen year old brother likes to joke about whether he can vote too.

“You’re too young, dear. Just wait until you’re an adult.”

But what if my knowledge of feminism, abortions, homosexuality and current events were about the same as my brother’s? Because, say, I never learned about it when I was thirteen, or when I was 18?

Am I qualified to judge homosexuals and their lives when I’ve never even heard their stories? Should I be able to vote on foreign policies regarding Syria or Yemen when the only thing Middle East-related I know is the name Gaddafi?


So if these parents really want their children to be the hope of the future, they might want to get them acquainted with the present.

Indeed, they have a right to prohibit their own kids from reading these books if they want to, even if we don’t agree, and the district rightfully respected their beliefs. (No one likes lawsuits.) I applaud these parents for their attempt to hide the harsh reality they live in from us kids. But in the end, you’re just harming both you and me.

Slapping a band-aid over these problems will only lead to greater infections.

10 thoughts on “not preparation for life, but life itself

  1. HelsinkiBudapest says:

    Someone on a writers’ forum actually posted that they wanted to protect their children from unhappy thoughts, and that was why they didn’t want them reading books other than Sweet Valley High (personally, I preferred the Sunset High books, but I did read a few from the SVH series, because my best friend at the time introduced me to them). But this kind of comment on a writers’ forum is a bit extreme. Guess that doesn’t bode well for the assorted parents who are trying to ban books for whatever reason. I agree with the person who commented above saying parents oppose those themes fundamentally and it’s not about protecting their precious offspring. Oh, and there is no way on earth I would ever consider either Twilight, or that other abomination of shades (it pains me to just try and type the title) literature in any way, shape or form. Harsh but true.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Invisibly Me says:

    A very interesting and provocative post! I think that what you point out Walls having said, ‘we may be taking away the tools they need to protect themselves later on’, and you noting that we should acquaint the next generation with the present is all very true. Hiding from what’s going on, bubblewrap & sugar coating, ignorance and apathy only serve to perpetuate the problem. Well written! ❤
    I wanted to ask you this ages ago but never did – What theme are you using on WP?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Wayfarer says:

    I don’t think people ban books because they want to protect their children but because they fundamentally oppose those themes in all aspects of life and want to ban them. There’s no reasoning with people who believe being gay is a mortal sin and do everything to take away the rights of LGBT people. They don’t want to ban these books because they think they’re bad for kids, but because they want to erase the existence of LGBT people altogether. I think the only exception is sex scenes, which I think some parents do oppose because they want to shelter their kids even though, like, the internet exists so whatever.

    Also that picture of a library is the main reading room at my alma mater! (UC Berkeley)

    Liked by 2 people

    • aliz97 says:

      That’s an interesting point — the opposition to the banned books does in fact stem from the fundamental opposition to the themes in the book.

      And wow, UC Berkeley has such a pretty reading room! ❤


  4. Sascha Darlington says:

    Interesting. You’ve been writing a lot of thought-provoking posts lately! It has always seemed to me that people start raising the issue of banned books on books they have never read. The one thing society seems to excel in is raising judgement based on gossip and heresay. I imagine that the book bannersadvocate banning 50 Shades based on the sexual situations presented when, in reality, they should be banning it because it’s so badly written and depicts a Seattle that doesn’t exist. Alas, books are not banned because they are badly written, which really should be the only reason to ever ban a book. One would hope that ideas and concepts are always widely spread. Except that intellectualism is frequently held under suspicion. I’m about to go on wild tangents. Thanks for giving me something to think on!

    Liked by 2 people

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