Deb Rachel’s Library Lesson

2012 Debutante Rachel BertscheI have a little brother. He’s 10.

We’re not related by blood, of course. But according to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, we’re family.

On Tuesday night, my husband and I took our little guy to the library. Usually we go to the basketball court or the museum or the movies, but this was a school night so the public library seemed the appropriate option. En route, I decided to teach him about Banned Books Week.

“Did you know that there are some people who want to ban books? That means that they don’t allow kids to read certain stories. They don’t even keep the book in the library, because they don’t want you to learn what’s in them,” I explained.

“I want to ban books.”

I don’t think he totally understood.

“No, it’s not just not wanting to read. It’s not even making it allowed at school to read that book. So you couldn’t even choose if you wanted to read it or not. You couldn’t even make your own decision!”

This did not make him happy.

“There are some really great books that teach important lessons that were banned because some people thought they were inappropriate for kids,” I told him.

That word—inappropriate—really set him off.

“But what if someone wants to be a doctor?” my bro said, getting all worked up. “If they don’t let him read books about bodies then he won’t learn what he needs! And what if someone wanted to be in the military? He needs to learn about the Army!”

I wanted to hug him. I would have, if it were allowed. It’s not.

It was a glorious moment of wisdom from my little man. One that I couldn’t have articulated any better.

And wow, if kids were taught about–gasp!–the human body? Or war? Well that would clearly be the worst.

I told our bro that he was exactly right. Those kids who want to be doctors and soldiers need those books. And then we read Dr. Seuss, another banned author (remember The Lorax? Its scandalous message of environmentalism got it ripped right from the shelves), and called it a night.

{If, on this lovely Thursday morning, you’re in the mood to celebrate one of the world’s greatest banned authors, I direct you to this awesome audio of Neil Patrick Harris, Joan Cusack, and other celebrities reading from the good Doctor’s latest book, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, released yesterday.

Or you can watch this video on how the book came to be. It’s pretty fascinating.}

16 Replies to “Deb Rachel’s Library Lesson”

    1. I know, it’s sad. But there are very strict rules, which makes sense. They have to protect the kids. It’s a pretty wonderful organization that way!

  1. You and your husband are awesome. You’re making a lasting difference in the life of a child, and I commend you for it.

    I loved hearing about the new Seuss material! Now I just have to get my hands on it.

  2. Rachel, now I want to hug YOU! You and your husband are wonderful–and this young man knows it, hugs or not. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life with us.

    I love the conversation–and he couldn’t have put it any sharper into focus.

  3. There is so much awesome in this post: that you and your husband mentor a little brother, that you’re teaching him about important things, that he is so bright and gets it. This is where all this stuff matters and why we’re here talking about this – it goes right at the ground level, with our kids.

    Thanks for both this post and being an obviously excellent mentor!

    1. Aw thanks Joanne. We try. It’s hard to know what gets through to him and what doesn’t, but I know he hears even more than I think. And yes, he is a bright kid! We adore him.

  4. What occurred to me as I read this post is that your Little Brother is always going to remember how he learned about banned books — from his Big Sister! That’s awesome. I don’t remember my parents talking to me about it, much less helping me understand its ramifications. I didn’t learn about banned books until college! So kudos to you!

  5. We TOTALLY need those bodies books! As I am reading The Girls Body Book to our 10 year old, she asks, “what’s the pink squishy thing for?” Oh help me.

    And thanks for being a big sister. It is a shame our world has gotten to a place where hugging is forbidden.

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