What’s With Everyone Wanting to Ban YA Novels?

I think there is an epidemic of selective amnesia facing American parents—the inability to remember what it was like when they were under the age of 18. I’m serious. I think those “ice chips” they give mothers in labor are secretly laced with some mind-altering drug that erases their teenage years. Because it is the only reason I can see for parents to continually go on the warpath to ban young adult novels.

Yes, young adult novels contain themes and experiences that teenagers face in their daily lives, like sex, and drugs, and drinking, and cheating, and lying, and pregnancy, and homosexual relationships, and cursing, and who knows what. Wait, I know who knows—teens. Because all of these taboo “themes” that parents want stripped from literature are actually occurring in their kids’ real lives.

And these parents know this. Or at least some point they did. They didn’t grow up in the bubble. Parents had to go to high school. Even if they didn’t do any of the taboo things on my makeshift list (come on, you know they did), they had to have had friends who did. Woodstock happened, folks. So did the ‘80s. And those hippy mud people and Robert Downey, Jr. wannabes went on to have children. So don’t tell me now that they’ve forgotten all about what it’s like to be young.

Yet, Judy Blume still remains one of the Top Ten most challenged authors. This makes no sense to me. I can’t imagine any living breathing person who doesn’t relate to the awkwardly real first sexual experiences described in Forever. But it’s not just sex that parents want censored. Nope. They’ve asked libraries to ban Blubber, Tiger Eyes, and Are You There, God? It’s me Margaret.

Come on, people, it’s 2009! There are tampon and birth control commercials on TV every two seconds. I think I know more about Yaz than anyone should, and I don’t even take the damn drug. But no, ban the book on maxi pads.

So that’s why I got particularly fired up to see some mom in Orlando trying to get Maureen Johnson and Cecily von Ziegesar banned. Again. Even the mother’s quotes sound self-righteous. She claims that censoring The Bermudez Triangle and Gossip Girl (which she singled out because her daughter happened to bring them home) is “a black and white [decision]. It’s so distasteful for youths. It’s so far fetched that we would allow this to happen in the first place.”

Yes, why would librarians stock books for teens on the YA shelves in the first place? It’s so silly. It’s just their jobs. And the books are awesome.

So I hope that library stands its ground. And I seriously hope that when I do have kids I don’t come down with the whole amnesia thing. I might have to bring my own ice chips to the hospital just in case.


So I just watched Oprah’s interview with the FLDS members of the Yearning for Zion Ranch—the ones whose kids were taken (and returned) last year. For the most part, the interview was interesting; however, oddly enough, I found Oprah’s demeanor at times to be surprisingly insensitive. Did you see when she asked the teen girls about the prairie dresses? When the girls said they found each other’s dresses very different and would ask each other “Where’d you get your dress?” Oprah laughed. Like in their faces. She even barked “that’s too funny” several times. And when the girl said she wasn’t kidding, Oprah kept going. “You’d actually ask some here where you got your dress?! Haha!” I mean, I know their dresses are lame, but you don’t say that to their faces, Oprah. Get some manners.

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