One way to spark an interest in reading in your children is to talk to them about attempts to ban books. The idea that people have found some of their favorite books objectionable enough to try to disallow as many people as possible from reading them can be such a crazy idea to kids that it gets them wanting to read them to see what all the fuss is about.

It's also a great opportunity to talk to kids about freedom of speech -- of course we all think there are some really bad books out there (and movies and TV shows, etc., etc., etc.), but even if there is very little redeeming value in our minds, that doesn't mean the idea itself should be out of circulation.

Plus, the learning opportunity is there to teach that even something that does have some objectionable material in it really could have some redeeming value -- a great lesson in the midst of some disgusting imagery or silly characters.

Alex, 12 years old, and Wendy, 8 years old, recently sounded off about their opinions on some of their favorites that have been banned.

"Junie B. Jones"

Why people might want to ban it: Junie B. says words like "dumb" and "stupid" and "shut up" a lot. People may think that kids shouldn't say those words.

Why it shouldn't be banned: We've all learned before that we shouldn't say those words. We should be able to read them without saying them to other people.

What's valuable about the books: At the end of the book, something good usually comes out of it. Once Junie B. gets a valentine, and she finds out that it came from the really mean kid, and they end up being friends. The lesson is that looks can be deceiving.

"Captain Underpants"

Why people might want to ban it: There's a lot about things like underpants and doodoo, and people might think that's inappropriate.

What's valuable about the books: They're good action books for little kids. They're funny. The kids save the day a lot, so it's a good superhero book for little kids because it's not violent.

"Huck Finn"

Why people might want to ban it: Maybe because they have sort of bad words in it and the characters say things like "ain't"

What's valuable about the books: Huck Finn is being nice to a slave, and not many people were being nice to them at that time. It's also action-packed, and it's good reading novels in school because when you read novels instead of just a story in your literature book, you don't just forget about it. When you read the whole book and do activities with it in school, the book sticks in your mind.

"Bridge to Terabithia"

Why people might want to ban it: A girl dies in it, and the boy has family problems.

What's valuable about the book: The boy has a dad that gets angry easily, and kids may be able to relate to it if they have problems like that in their family.

"Harry Potter"

Why people might want to ban it: The books have magic in them and some people think that magic is against God.

Why it shouldn't be banned: It's fictional, guys!

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