From The Atlantic: How Banning Books Marginalizes Children

In this corner, the cries for diversity are heard so regularly, that one can’t help but to feel they are unified into some kind of chant. Meanwhile, the coroner is busy trying to figure out why a tiny but vicious minority of those marching is taking aim at the canonical paladins, otherwise called Dead White Men (DWMs). Professor Paul Ringler has therefore raised a very timely beacon at The Atlantic, which might provide a useful distraction for the diversifiers. Quickly, they must dispatch a band for the children’s publishing industries, where not only are paladins and Aladdins alike being held prisoners, but where their arguments would seem comparatively adult. If nothing else, there is evidence to suggest that the publishers have DWMs, and we must not let the children get hold of them at any cost. What costs, Dr. Ringler?

52 percentof the books challenged or banned in the last 10 years feature so-called diverse contentthat is, they explore issues such as race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental illness, and disability.

Who benefits when Sherman Alexie’s TheAbsolutely TrueDiary of Part-Time Indian, which deals with racism, poverty, and disability, is banned for language and anti-Christian content?

Illustration for The Atlantic

Illustration for The Atlantic

Who’s hurt when Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings’s picture bookI Am Jazz, about a transgender girl, is banned? The history of children’s book publishing in America offers insight into the ways in which traditional attitudes about appropriate stories often end up marginalizing the lives and experiences of many young readers,rather than protecting them.

When librarians and teachers reject works that may be emotionally inappropriate for children (a common reason), they’re adhering to the traditional and mostly prevailing view that children’s literature should avoid controversial topics. Its understandable that adults want to minimize children’s anxiety, and schools are often under intense social and financial pressure to maintain established standards. But it s also important to recognize that this tradition was established in the 19th century to serve the needs of the white, wealthy Protestant producers and consumers who have dominated the field of American children’s literature for much of the past 200 years.

With Dr. Ringler beating the drums of war, now more than ever it is time to find a leader. We sound the clarion for Lord Nelson, in whom is combined all the powers in the grand lineage from Homer to Joyce, to return in due course and restore to order the office that has been pillaged, ravaged, and debauched in her absence.For the kids: “Once more unto the breeches, dear Nelson, once more.”

Read his full post at The Atlantic.

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