The following is the text of the comment made by Noblesville mom and educator Jennifer Midkiff at the April 27, 2023, meeting of the Hamilton East Public Library Board of Trustees. We are reprinting it by popular request.
The list of “violent crimes” that the Hamilton East Public Library’s Board of Trustees considers justification for removing a book from the shelves in the Teen Zone (target audience: ages 13–17) is listed in Appendix B of the documents for its April 17, 2023, meeting. The list reads as follows: murder, homicide, rape, sexual assault, battery, kidnapping, robbery, arson, child abuse, human trafficking, rioting, and terrorism. This blanket policy of moving any books mentioning these things to the general collection (adult readers) is a disservice to teens on many levels.
No murder mysteries? Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys? Beloved YA author Tamora Pierce’s books include murder, arson, robbery, and kidnapping. Harry Potter books, ditto. Even classics like Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the one they made a Disney movie out of) involves kidnapping and robbery. Add to that list the children’s classic The Rescuers and Newbery Award–winning YA book The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (kidnapping), The Chronicles of Narnia (kidnapping, murder), and The Hunger Games books (rioting, terrorism, murder, child abuse). I could go on for pages, but readers can think back to their own beloved favorite books during their teen years and add their own to this list. (Wizard of Oz, anyone?)
What our overprotective Board of Trustees fails to understand is that no one thinks the acts of violence on this list or in these books are good things. These books do not promote these acts of violence or glorify them as good or reasonable behaviors. What these things are, in storytelling, is catalysts for change, obstacles to overcome, evils to be faced. Do we not want our teenagers to see examples of people facing down evil, for some reason? I would rather my child learned the red flags of unhealthy relationships through fiction than through real-life heartbreak. I would rather children learn the warning signs of child abuse and human trafficking from a book, than fall victim to abuse or trafficking themselves. I want my teenaged children to see evil overcome. And I’d rather they saw it in a book, before they must face similar challenges in real life. Leave the books on the Teen Zone shelves!
Do you like this page?