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Dear Realist Librarian

Dear Realist Librarian,

What's going on with the book bans?


Worried Patron

Dear Worried Patron,

The United States has been banning books since before we even had an official United States. The first documented banning of a book in what is now the US was in 1637 when English businessman Thomas Morton arrived in Massachusetts and found the customs and rules of Puritan culture far too strict for his comfort. After being exiled from Puritan society, Morton wrote a tell-all book to go along with his lawsuit against the society. His review of the Puritans was so scathing, they banned anyone in their community from reading it. This made The English New Canaan the first banned book in the USA.

Today, school and public libraries across the country celebrate Banned Books Week every November. It’s a week of promoting all the books that have been banned or censored by schools, parent groups, religious groups, or lawmakers. While some groups consistently fight against books they deem inappropriate, most headline-making book bans come in times of political unrest and focus on whatever issues are most hot-button at the moment. It’s been a few years since the last organized book burning, so I guess it’s time to have this conversation again.

In addition to all that keeping-the-kid-alive stuff, parents have the titanic responsibility of knowing what media their child is consuming. Giving your 7-year-old an iPad with unfiltered internet access is implied consent to letting your 7-year-old in on every single secret they could find out on that unfiltered internet. In the 10 minutes you’re in the shower, they might see two different X-rated scenes, buy $640 worth of popsicles off Amazon, and find out there’s no Santa Claus. That’s what you signed up for when you gave them that device and left them unattended. On the other end of the spectrum, some parents heavily filter every single book and movie their child wants to see and outlaw Harry Potter because of the witchcraft, not the TERF-ness. Both extremes are the parents’ choice.

Stay tuned for part 2!


Realist Librarian

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