Sunday, June 11, 2023

Wilson County Schools has a library Mature Reading List. Parents must give permission before their child may read books from this list.

by Rod Williams, June 11, 2023- The Tennessee Conservative reports that the Wilson County School Board removed two more books from Wilson County School libraries last week despite the county’s Book Review Committee recommending keeping them on the Mature Reading List. I am not familiar with the two books that were removed and do not know if they should have been removed or not.  However, unless there is a strong reason to override the committee set up for the purpose of making such recommendations, I would tend to defer to the Committee. You can read more about this issue at this link

I did not even know schools had mature reading list. I approve. I think parents should be the ultimate authority on what their child may watch or read. Schools should not undermine the values of parents. There is a public interest in protecting children, but there must be a balance between what is in the public interest and what is within a parent's purview as to how they want to raise their child. This is just one of conflicting values that we must grapple with in a free self-governing republic with both majority rule and individual liberties. I would defer in most cases to parents, but at the same time I would not let the most narrow-minded set the ceiling on what is permissible for other children to see or read or hear. Also, I would be much more tolerant of "mature" books being available as opposed to being required reading.

In deferring to parental wishes as to how they wish to raise their child, this applies to more than just what books they may read. Take nudity or drag show entertainment. If a parent wants to take their child to a nudist colony or a drag show, the State should not be in the business of overruling the wishes of the parent and determining that drag shows or a naturalist lifestyle is inappropriate for minors. Sex abuse or child labor protections or child physical abuse are within the realm of public interest but for the most part the state should defer to the parent. 

When I think about restricting what may be taught or made available in School and how that is determined, I think about my father. My dad was a good man. He had a stick moral code and was very much opposed to alcoholic beverages of any kind. When growing up he would not allow us to watch any TV shows that had drinking.  I would be in the midst of watching a western, like Bonanza and Hoss would walk in a bar and order a whiskey and my dad would say, "Turn that off. We are not having that in our house."  

I would seethe with anger and maybe I am still a little mad about it when I think about it. My dad also opposed dancing, cards, dice, immodest clothes and mixed swimming. He also thought the teaching of evolution should be banned. I would not have wanted my father to decide what books were in the school library.

In the case of the mature reading list for books in the school library in Wilson County, the books on the list can only be viewed by a child whose parents have given permission for their child to have access. Currently, the School Board is grappling with the wording of that permission statement parents must sign in order for children to see books on that list. 

The list is available at this link. In looking at the list, I have read these books: The Kite Runner, The Handmaid's Tale, Slaughterhouse Five, and Where the Crawdad's Sing. If I had a child I would not be opposed to him or her reading any of these books.  I would be glad they are reading rather than watching Tic Tok.  I would sign the permission slip.

The mature reading list is interesting. It has a link that reviews each book and applies a rating to the book. 

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