Would you censor the books your (real or prospective) children read at home?
In some sense, I would say that censoring your child's book is a good thing. As opposed to throwing a big fit and trying to get a book banned at a library or school and thus preventing other people from choosing what they read, you are making choices for your family alone. Parents raise their children as they see best. Some people don't want their children exposed to certain things before a certain age (or ever). As long as they're not imposing their viewpoint upon me, I don't have a problem with that.
What would I do?
That's obviously hard to say, because I don't have kids. But I think I would be very reluctant to censor my children's reading choices.
1. Different Books for Different Foolks (Hey That Rhymes! With Creative Spelling) For younger kids, I would be most likely to want to censor books that I think are stupid. Perhaps like Captain Underpants - although I've never read these; I'm judging them based on the title. I hate bathroom humor.
I think censoring books just because you don't like them and not because they're "offensive" is a particularly bad idea. You never know what will hook a kid into reading. Besides, a book or series that you don't like will be a relatively brief passion for the child. If you're lucky, it will get them to read other books that you do appreciate. Putting up with dumb stuff your kids like seems like a right of passage as a parent. I remember how much my parents despised Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse, but I loyally watched that show for several years. Then my interest waned and now I can't even remember what it was about other than being ridiculous.
2. Kids Process What They're Ready For
Many parents are lucky enough to have precocious readers who want to read above their grade level. This leads to concern that children may be reading content, be it swear words, violence, or sex, that they're too young to be exposed to. At least from my experience, things that are "too old" for kids go right over their heads. I read Judy Blume's risque books like Forever, Tiger Eyes, and Deenie when I was 9 years old. Deenie in particular is a book that I loved since it was about a girl with scoliosis, a condition I also had. I read it at least 10 times. I re-read it about three years ago and was shocked at the sexual content in the book. Shocked specifically because in all the times I read Deenie, I had never once comprehended or cared about it. (By the way, if you were a fan of Deenie as a kid, don't re-read it. It didn't stand up to the test of time).
3. Forbidden Books Entice
Do you want to ensure that your children read a book? Then forbid it. I think it's human instinct to respond to a command of "Don't touch" by reading out to tap the forbidden object. When I was 10, my mother told me that I was not allowed to read Sweet Valley High books. She explained that they were too old for me plus if I read them now, I wouldn't be able to enjoy them when I was a few years ago. As you might expect, after that, stampeding horses couldn't keep me away from reading them. I checked them out from the school library and hid them in my classroom desk. I distinctly remember panicking when my parents visited my classroom for Open School Night in fear that they might discover my stash. I don't think they did.
I think censoring books at home is a very personal decision. I can understand parents wanting to shape their kids' viewpoint and values. Limiting what your kids read at least doesn't limit what other kids get to read. For myself, I think I will keep my future children's reading choices unlimited, although I will surely encourage books that I'd like them to read. What I think it most important is being aware of what your kids read and discussing it with them.