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Disney Jr. Won’t Kill You

How we shouldn’t ban books.


Podcast Episode #27


My name is Naomi Shibles and I’m here to tell you Why I Need This Author Gig.


With each episode, I’ll share a little bit about my writing journey, sprinkled with some anecdotes so that we can share a laugh.


In this episode, I cover:

  • My amazing kid

  • The worries of parenting

  • How we should not ban books (it needs to be said 2X)


 

It’s finally getting cold here in North Carolina! I love it. Strings of twinkle light up the night. Boots have emerged and mingle with long-sleeved dresses. As we buy gifts for loved ones, we forgive them for hurting our feelings. We are winter goddesses.


Today I listened to my son play a song on the piano for his great aunt and marveled that most of the songs he practices are video game music. Then I thought about the speech we parents got at his Montessori preschool years ago about the evils of screen time.


Of course children need a a variety of activities and lots of exercise, but no one could convince me that Disney Jr. would destroy his life. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I grew up in the 80s when movies taught us that gamers could fly spaceships and breaking the rules in a cheeky way was Michael J. Fox’s secret to success (bow bow chick chicka chicka), but I didn’t believe them when they told us screen time would make our children naughty.


When his dad introduced him to video games, the kid was hooked. And I didn’t mind that, either. He’s learned a cornucopia of skills from them and takes coding classes to learn how to design them. And he plays very soaring, complicated songs that he hears in them. It’s the environment in which he likes to learn and I’m so glad that we gave him the opportunity to explore it.


I’m not sharing this to drone on that my kid is amazing (he is). I want to compare the vilification of screen time to all of this censorship and book banning in schools that’s happening.


Let’s pretend that there are no political or phobic motivations behind parents opposing books. Just like the Montessori people thought that no screen time was best for kids, we’re assuming that these parents also believe that they are doing what’s best for their kids.


teen girl reading book by a river
Image by Silvia from Pixabay

The problem is that we can’t predict where any of us—kids or adults—will find inspiration and ‘A-ha!’ moments. There could be something in a book that has nothing to do with what ruffles your feathers that helps a child understand life and their place in it. That’s all. We want them to have more resources, not fewer. And we have to trust them to navigate sensitive subjects with the confidence that we’ve hopefully instilled in them.


When I was in 8th grade, one of my favorite albums was Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. I loved it so much. The rush of music and driving vocals—amazing. Now, half the songs on that album are about heroin and other nasty stuff. The tape (yes I said tape) had a truly horrific painting that I won’t even bother to describe in its liner notes. But I was 13 and the music spoke to me—and that’s what matters. Did I become a heroin addict? No. Did I ever think the painting was okay? Not even a little bit.


Because kids know right from wrong.

So they should be given the latitude to explore their world—especially through books.

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