Today was my first day as children's book specialist at my job, and it went pretty well. Nothing over-the-top happened - mostly I was just reorganising the children's DVD section, but it was nice to be there y'know?
There was this one customer who was looking for recommendations for her advanced-reader daughter, and I was pretty stoked about it. Advanced-reader children are easiest for me to recommend for because I can basically take what I read at their age and tell them to read it too. Her daughter was ten or eleven or something. Anyway, this lady wanted me to find this other book she'd seen in the newspaper first so I went and did that. In the meantime one of the other women who works there suggested she give her daughter Harry Potter. No! the lady said. You can't expose my daughter to that! That is witchcraft!
My actual thoughts upon hearing about this where Oh wow I thought all of you guys died out about six years ago. Harry Potter used to be controversial in the churches I went to growing up, but now they don't even register. I was such a rebel for reading them back in the day though.
Anyway, then the mother went on to tell me that SOME books are just marvellous for children to read (she pointed to some fairy books in the early-reader section as she said this) but others are JUST DROSS. I was a little bit offended by her high-handed manner as she said this, never mind that she was actually right on this one. (There is more to reading than vamp lit!)
Thing is, I don't think she was really prescribing books that where too easy for her daughter just to protect her from the evils of Harry Potter. She was actually after a book that recommends other books for children, and was obviously looking to expand the things her daughter was going to read. It's just that there's such a missed opportunity there. My dad actively gave me Harry Potter to read as soon as he found out about the series (this was sometime during 1999 when I was 12). Instead of "protecting" me from the dangers of witchcraft by never, ever speaking of it, my parents actually used Harry Potter as a way to have a frank discussion about it. I was able to air my questions, they were able to express their concerns and I was able to make up my own mind.
I love the Harry Potter series but I wouldn't touch a ouija board with a ten-foot pole. I have my parents to thank for that. This goes for other topics that tend to get books banned too. Letting kids read about them (so long as the parents know what their kids are reading, of course) is actually better than locking away those topics forever and ever because it opens up the way to a real discussion, which leads to informed decisions.
Ignorance is weakness okay?
Recommendation: Harry Potter, duh. I mean, recommending Harry Potter is like saying HEY HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS BAND CALLED THE BEATLES? but seriously c'mon. If you haven't read them yet, you are seriously missing out. Just freaking read them. I don't care for your excuses because they are lame. Even people who "hate reading" love Harry Potter. Just read them. Read them. Just read them. Stop being so proud and read them. Read them okay?