The Corner


The Right Kind of Literary Tyranny

Children’s reading books on a shelf inside Widnes Library in Widnes, England, September 12, 2018. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

It never ceases to shock me, when I am speaking with parents, how many of them utter some version of the following statement: “Oh no, I could never tell my child what they are or aren’t allowed to read. They know what they like, and I don’t want to fight them on it.” Erika J. Ahern has some strong words for these parents. While her main point in the piece centers on pushing back against Amazon’s recent book-bannings, her claim that she has “exercised with Draconian vigilance” her “right to decide what literature [her] children will and will not encounter,” should catch readers’ attention. No, it is not wise to allow your children to roam freely around the library. It’s also not healthy. We don’t just let children run through the grocery store, filling a cart with candy and ice cream, do we? There is an amazing amount of junk — plenty of it insidious, plenty of it just plain stupid — sitting on those shelves. Yes, certainly, there are many literary gems that deserve our time and attention. Libraries and bookstores can be a wealth of knowledge, a place of excitement and exploration ready for the taking. But how would children know the difference between pyrite and the genuine metal if it isn’t explained to them? And why would they care, unless the beauty of that metal is shown to them?

Words matter.

Ideas matter.

For heaven’s sake, the artwork matters!

Please choose for your children, and please choose wisely.

Sarah Schutte is the podcast manager for National Review and an associate editor for National Review magazine. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she is a children's literature aficionado and Mendelssohn 4 enthusiast.


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