This past week, a school in Tennessee removed the graphic novel MAUS from its library due to inappropriate curse words and a depiction of a naked character. Keep in mind that this book uses illustrated mice and cats to tell the story of THE HOLOCAUST. That’s right, the parents in this school district are less concerned about the murder of 6 million Jewish people than the possibility that little Timmy might learn a new swear word that I’m sure he’s never heard before in the car.
Whether it’s MAUS or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, another book that has seen its share of censorship, it’s nothing new that parents are so afraid that their children might feel some discomfort while learning about a world beyond their gaggle of friends on social media.
Reading can and should challenge us. It’s OK to occasionally feel uncomfortable with a story that stretches our belief or an opinion we don’t share or understand. It’s called LEARNING. Fortunately, because of the news coverage on the book banning, MAUS is now reaching more readers than the author ever dreamed of.
MAUS reminds us that we can’t forget to teach our children of the horrific ramifications of racism and hate. On September 11, 2001, my children witnessed on news reports what I told them would be a defining moment in their lives. That evening, as a family, we watched the tragedy unfold in real-time on TV. While some parents shielded their young children from the horrors of that day, I believe my boys needed to see what humans are capable of doing to one another.
A documentary aired soon after on CBS, produced by filmmakers who just happened to be following firefighters on that fateful day. CBS made the right decision to air the special without editing out the gruesome scenes and the natural cursing by the firefighters. My husband and I could have decided that this special was too violent for young children and would make our kids uncomfortable. But isn’t that the point?
Thank you, Tennessee parent, for opening our eyes to the importance of MAUS and all those other books that make our children think.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and Author. Her novel, CHASING NORTH STAR is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor