As we approached the circulation desk at the library yesterday, 7-year-old S noticed the big display commemorating Banned Books Week. He read off the titles of featured works that had variously been challenged, restricted, banned or burned.

This was all news to him, so I explained to him that some people think that books they disagree with should be off-limits to everyone. Knowing how little he likes being told what to do, I figured this would resonate with him. And it did, for a second, until (I guess) he remembered how much he likes telling other people what to do, at which point he began coming up with the appropriate number of detractors necessary in order for a book to be restricted, etc.

I grew agitated, and you could argue that I was interfering with his freedom of thought. So be it — book-banners weren’t getting a ride home. Finally, when I pointed out that his beloved Clifford the Big Red Dog was among the challenged works, censorship hit home. (I could have said It’s So Amazing! or Harry Potter, but I went for animated and cuddly.)

That worked. For a moment. Then he was back to coming up with extreme situations in which books might be rightfully burned.

“When there’s a book we really disagree with,” I persisted, “wouldn’t it be better if we just wrote a book of our own explaining why we think the other book is wrong?”

Brief silence.

“OK, we’ll write a book.”

End of discussion, except that I have this feeling that I’m on the hook to serve as S’s co-author for some spleen-venting directed toward an as-yet-unidentified tome. I hope it’s not one of your favorites.


Earlier, 2-year-old F did the most efficient job of library book-selection I’ve ever seen. Usually, he just grabs individual titles willy-nilly. But yesterday, he tried a new approach. He walked up to a shelf in the “T” section of the picture books, extracted a bunch consecutive titles en masse, and was done for the day.

So, we’ll be reading Alvin Tresselt, Nathaniel Tripp, Wallace Tripp, Irene Trivas, Eugene Trivizas, and Tasha Tudor. And if that method of picking one’s reading material doesn’t demonstrate freedom of thought, I don’t know what does.