Opinion | Let parents choose what library books their own child reads
I want my kids to pursue their dreams and remain true to themselves. Reading has helped unlock their imaginations, teach them about different areas of the world and encourage them to be whatever they want to be.
One of the reasons I created roots here in Michigan is because I want my children to grow up in a state that values different perspectives and backgrounds. Our local public library is a place we can go as a family to learn and grow in those values.
But in recent years, we've witnessed attempts to censor, ban, or restrict access to certain books in our public libraries, driven by concerns over the content being inappropriate for young readers. While the intention behind these challenges may be well-meaning, they infringe on our First Amendment right to read.
As a parent, keeping my kids safe and healthy is my top priority. At the same time, I want my children to be resilient, caring and kind. I want them to know and appreciate diverse perspectives. Michigan’s public libraries offer a safe space for our children to explore age-appropriate content. But when we limit or ban content, we undermine the very essence of this safe haven. Instead of protecting our children, we are limiting their growth and understanding of the world around them.
Parents should know what their kids are reading and watching – it’s a good thing to be involved and to ask questions. But no parent has the right to decide what another person’s child should or shouldn’t read at our public libraries.
Every family has a different background, and it should be up to each individual parent to decide what types of books they want to share with their children. Parents can work alongside their children to determine what their interests are and talk to their local librarians about what content they recommend and how to navigate the different sections of the library.
Librarians are trained and trusted to help guide families to age-appropriate content when they visit the library. They go through years of specialized education and ongoing training to develop collections that meet the broad interests of communities.
As parents, our role is not to shield our children from the world but to empower them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive. Public libraries, with their vast collections, dedicated librarians, and unwavering commitment to intellectual freedom, are invaluable partners in this journey.
In Michigan, parents must stand together to protect and uphold the freedom to read in our public libraries. It’s up to all of us to ensure that our children have access to a wide range of perspectives and ideas, so they can become critical thinkers and informed citizens with the tools they need to follow their dreams.
You can join me and 3,000 other Michigan residents, parents and students in the MI Right to Read coalition by visiting MIRighttoRead.com/parents. We all want our children to succeed, and public libraries provide them with the resources they need to learn and grow.
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