Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, September 27, 2018
The most current list of top 10 challenged titles includes eight books published for children and teens, with the remaining two frequently appearing on curriculum lists for high school students. The same is true of previous years' lists: the majority each year are books with high youth appeal and most were published by mainstream publishers specifically for juvenile readers.
Most of the titles appearing on the challenged list, in fact, are ones of high appeal to 4-year-olds, 11-year-olds, or 16-year-old readers. If you look at those ages, they share a quality that threatens many parents: these are ages at which children and youth typically grow into an increased level of independence. Book challenges aimed at these age groups may, in fact, be responses to that perceived threat to parental authority. That wouldn't be a conscious action, of course, and doesn't hold true when a movement grows around a specific book or subject that an organized group underwrites.
How can we help? Conversations with frightened parents usually work better than pushback that ignores the emotional content underlying many challenges. It all comes back to the power of listening.