The Associated Press reports a school district in North Carolina recently banned a book from its libraries.
The action is refreshingly quaint.
In this age of smartphones, tablets, social media, laptops, digital audio players, and even television and radio, the notion that a book is at the center of a mild controversy is a sign that those archaic conveyors of information are still relevant.
Students read books ... who knew?!?
But banning a novel from a public library because of its content? Evidently our golden age of technology is not heralding in the golden age of enlightenment.
The feather-ruffling book is Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” a story regarded as a significant piece of American literature that examines being a black man in the United States.
The parent of an 11th grader raised the following concern:
“This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read, without their knowledge. This book is freely in your library for them to read.”
I don’t feel comfortable telling a parent how to raise their kid. But I do feel comfortable pointing out the obvious.
Hey, mom, you know if your kid wants to read “Invisible Man,” they are going to, right? There are these things called tablets that let kids download books.
Furthermore, while your school’s library has capitulated and removed the novel from its shelves, presumably local libraries haven’t. Nor have bookstores. Or online merchants. And while you cite a need for religious tolerance to be considered in the selection of appropriate reading material, what your child reads seems to be more appropriately discussed between you and your child rather than imposing a blanket ban that prohibits other students from accidental learning.
“Invisible Man” was one of several books on a summer suggested reading list for high school students — people on the verge of becoming young adults, we hope, who are capable of critical thinking.
That they were asked to read a novel, one of a handful that dealt with a painful era in this country’s evolution, and to come to their own conclusions should be celebrated. The students in that district were given the benefit of the doubt and presumed intellectually and emotionally mature enough to handle the material.
Say what you want about the people who govern Sweetwater Union High School District but at least, to my memory, they have never insulted students the way parents and board members in North Carolina have theirs.