Western Courier

Let kids read their own books

Brie Coder, Courier Staff

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This Friday will be the National Read Across America Day. This is a time for children of all ages to take a moment out of their class schedule, and sit down with a good book.

For a very long time now, children’s books have been apart of the challenged and banned controversy. Parents as well as other authority figures come together and discuss the books a child reads, and whether they’re appropriate or not. Those who find children’s book to be inappropriate tend to think that exploration, adventure and new challenges are bad. The question is why?

When we were younger, our teachers would read stories like “The Rainbow Fish” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” just to name a few. We were mesmerized by the colors, characters and if the book would have a happy ending. We never thought that “Green Eggs and Ham” was about giving into peer pressure, or that “The Rainbow Fish” was about communism. We didn’t even know what those concepts meant.

The purpose of books like these are to encourage children to try new things, and that it’s okay to be different. The reason I choose to discuss these two books is because they both have been the most criticized.

We all know that the story “Green Eggs and Ham” is about Sam-I-Am, who tries to get the unnamed character to try a plate of green eggs and ham. This 50 word book is a part of the beginner books series, which are books aimed at helping children ages 3-9 learn to read. The first time this book was banned was in 1965 in the People’s Republic of China for portraying an early version of Marxism. The ban was lifted in 1991, following Theodor Seuss Geisel’s passing. In America the book has been challenged many times for peer pressure, and causing anxiety to the unnamed character.

“The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister, is a story about a fish with shiny, multi-colored scales, who is quite fond of his looks. When other fish ask to have one of his shiny scales he refuses. His only remaining friend the starfish, tells him to meet the mysterious octopus for advice. The mysterious octopus tells Rainbow Fish to share his scales with others. Rainbow Fish then shares all but one of his scales with his new friends. Pfister’s goal when writing this book was to teach children about sharing and how important it is.

The moral of the story has been debated since the book first came out in 1992. Some reviewers believe the book is about rejecting individuality and promotion of socialism. Others see it as a book about influencing children to give away their bodies to indulge the wants of others at their own expense. Above all of these criticisms, many find the book to about communism.

Just reading these statements devastated me because children don’t even know what these ideas mean. When children are born into this world they are innocent and learn from others.

When others take away their freedom of imagination, what good does that do for children? Yes, I can understand that parents and authority figures are leery about what their children are exposed to, but books like these aren’t trying to destroy the child, instead they’re trying to encourage the child to see the good in life.

I ask for parents and authority figures to think twice before deciding on challenging a book, especially a children’s book. Because in the end they might be hurting a child’s perception of reality

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Let kids read their own books