Book bans have been making national headlines across the United States for a few years now, from “The Diary of a Young Girl” to “Maus” and “The Kite Runner.”
Carew Papritz, an educational thought leader and award-winning author of “The Legacy Letters,” spoke to Washington FAMILY to share his perspective on the recent book bans, including his unique take on what the outcomes of such bans might lead to—the unintentional positive of motivating kids to read books on difficult topics.
Are book bans harmful? What do you think of when you hear about book bans?
It’s interesting because my initial thought to the book ban was probably like a lot of people who love books. It’s that it is horrific and very serious. Then, what I try to do is turn things on their heads. My job is to inspire with positivity. So, I thought, you know, what’s the one thing that would inspire any kid to read a book? Well, tell him he can’t read it, right? Talk about the greatest marketing scheme to get kids to read books. Seriously, you don’t think they can find that information on the internet? They’re going to search it out. Trust your kids and trust their curiosity. Communicate with them.
Why do you think book bans have picked up steam in recent years?
I think the fear is change. What’s the thing that people fear the most? What’s the boogeyman for these groups? It’s change. The [world’s] just changing very fast, and so they think, “That’s the best way to contain that; it’s to either lock it away or to rewrite the narrative on it.”
As a parent, if you want to be involved in getting your kids the power to decide and to explore and be curious as opposed to locking it away, the more you’re scared of that change, the more it’s going to come back to bite you.
If a parent does have an issue with a book, either included in a curriculum or available in a school library, what could a parent do instead of advocating for that book to be banned?
It’s about communication. First and foremost, read the book. Don’t be scared by it. Be informed and start there. If there are things that shock or dismay and you don’t think it’s appropriate, then say “Look, I don’t want you to learn this, and it’s my prerogative as a parent.”
But it’s not your prerogative as a parent to parent all of us. Not wanting your kid to learn this stuff is your choice, but have a talk with your kid about it. Teach them how to learn, how to be curious. Teach them how to discern right from wrong. Your kids can find out this information any which way they want, so teach them to think about it.
Why are you so passionate about inspiring kids to read?
I think, as an author, if you don’t love reading books, you shouldn’t be an author. As a kid, I went to a two-room schoolhouse. It’s still there. It’s a little bit bigger now, but during the summer, we had to drive 50 miles to a log cabin library, and I would grab every Hardy Boy book I could, and that was my food, my intellectual food for the week. I just think if you fall in love with reading [at] an early age, it’s a gift that just keeps on giving your entire life.
Learn more about Papritz and “The Legacy Letters” at thelegacyletters.com. T