Book Selection in Open Libraries

by Theresa Flynn, August 30, 2011

Book content is a complex issue in many ways.  We are fortunate that unlike television, music and computer games, kids do not tend to emulate negative behaviors that they read about.  But when is it appropriate for them to read about older characters, and experience, through books, mature language and ideas?  As educators, and certainly, as parents, you may have noticed that the maturation rates for kids of the same ages can be remarkably different.

In the Judy Mayeux Library, we try to ensure that the material we buy is of literary merit, is something that teens can relate to, and is well-reviewed.  We are, however, still dealing with a range of students from 6th to 12th grade.  So, at the beginning of each year, we conduct orientations with the lower grades encouraging students to take time in their book selections.  The library staff is acquainted with those titles that may contain objectionable content, and do speak to students directly as the need arises.

In the long run, the only answer is that a decision that must be made for each child, rather than make a blanket rule for our total population.  It helps us if you can clearly communicate with your child any expectations regarding the selection of reading material.  Family values are respected by the library staff and are paramount when it comes to individual students.

You should feel comfortable sharing book titles with your child — you can even read a book with them!  Allow them to take the lead in discussing the book, and you might be impressed with the depth of understanding they can have (I know I am often pleasantly surprised by student comments on their reading).  If a book isn’t to your child’s liking, they can always bring it back (that’s the beauty of libraries).  If the book isn’t to your liking, let your child know that, and why, and allow that to be a place to begin a conversation.

Arlington Public Schools does have a formal “Request for Reconsideration” policy.  Please see the librarian to obtain these forms.  It should be noted that the Judy Mayeux Library reflects the philosophy of the H-B Woodlawn Program and adheres to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us in the library.  You can stop by when we are open, or email Maggie  at margaret.carpenter@apsva.us.