In 2015, a study by Scholastic found that the number of American children who say they read books for fun fell 10 percent in just four years. Between the ages of six to eight, 62 percent of children say they love reading for fun, but by the time they reach their teens, that number drops to about 46 percent. Part of the reason for that sharp decline probably has to do with growing older and developing different interests—but at least some of older kids’ and teens’ distaste for reading has to come from the fact that wherever there are young people and books, there are also a bunch of hall monitor adults looking to police what and how they read.
And in Missouri, a group of parents and (Republican, obviously) lawmakers would like to take the policing of books to the next level by actually jailing librarians for letting kids read non-committee approved books, even if those books are intended for young adult audiences, according to the Guardian:
“Under the parental oversight of public libraries bill, which has been proposed by Missouri Republican Ben Baker, panels of parents would be elected to evaluate whether books are appropriate for children. Public hearings would then be held by the boards to ask for suggestions of potentially inappropriate books, with public libraries that allow minors access to such titles to have their funding stripped. Librarians who refuse to comply could be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.”
Some of the books these absolute monsters are looking to ban include: “Sherman Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a young adult novel about the rape of a teenager.”
The article does not say which books are okay with the book police but my hunch is that they are most likely books for teens that advocate war and racism while reinforcing the message that teens should keep quiet about sexual assault.
However, Baker says that the books wouldn’t be removed from the library, just put in a special section for dangerous books, a move that may actually make the books more popular. Nothing makes kids want to put their hands on something faster than labeling it off-limits. Make books the new vapes, Missouri.