Most parents monitor their children’s activities, and censor things that they find inappropriate, but in what ways should they censor children’s reading material?
No parent wants their child to grow up using bad language – this much is true of nearly every parent, and at least every good one. Therefore, it seems reasonable enough to stop children reading books that are full of bad language. The same thing goes for sex, violence, drugs, and a whole lot of other things. But, the important thing is to keep things age-appropriate. If an eight year old picks up a book that is full of these things, then the book was never written for eight year old in the first place. The book is clearly not age appropriate for them and they should not be allowed to read it until they are older.
This is the key point. Many parents would stop their child ever going near that book, but perhaps it is just best to make them wait until they are fifteen of sixteen, and mature enough to deal with its themes. Many people would say that impressionable young people should never be exposed to these ideas, but in reality, it’s important that children get some exposure to unpleasant things. Otherwise, how else do they learn about them? Young people who have lived incredibly sheltered lives may go off the rails when they finally taste freedom, and can put themselves into all sorts of dangerous situations because they’re not at all streetwise. At the end of the day, a novel that shows all of the nasty effects of taking drugs is hardly going to encourage children to do them: it will have the opposite effect if anything.
A younger child, however, may respond very differently to such themes, becoming angry or upset rather than taking an important message away from the reading. This is why a younger child’s reading should be more closely monitored in many circumstances.
Some parents also stop their children reading certain books on religious grounds. This is completely understandable if the book promotes Satanism, or undesirable practices, but in many cases, censorship is totally unnecessary. Books are often banned on the basis of referring to magic, or witchcraft. While the bible does say that these things are bad, if included in a work of fiction then they are not going to do any harm to a child. Focus should not be on specific things that may crop up in the book, but on the messages that it conveys. Ultimately, the best thing is to keep it age appropriate, read things and keep an open mind. Reading is good for them, so parent’s shouldn’t discourage it.