As a librarian I have lots of choices to make. Every time I order or shop for books I am faced with multiple decisions. And the toughest of those questions is "Is this book appropriate for my school and our readers?"
Let's back up and I will give you a few facts. I teach at a K-8 charter school. It is a public school, not a private or Christian school. But I would bet cash money that the majority of people who send their kids here are Christian and would like a private school atmosphere without the hefty tuition bill. And that is kind of what we provide. But, like you might find anywhere, some families are more liberal and some are more conservative.
Also, with so many grades in one school, my library is divided into sections: general fiction and middle school fiction. We call this the Blue Dot section because the middle school books have blue dots on the side.
What makes it Blue Dot, you might ask? Is the book level high? Is the content a little more in the PG-13 range? Is there a lot of violence or kissing or (gasp) sex?
Now, I am one person. I cannot possibly read everything that Barnes and Nobles puts on it's shelves. And if I am ordering it from a catalog, I know even less. And while there are sites that can help you figure out what interest level the book is, I can't read about all 75 books I might buy in one order. I try to preview the most popular things, but again, I am one mind. What I might think is ok, you might label as smut. And what you might label as smut, publishers and critics might be raving about it.
And that has happened. Not recently, but it happens. Remember the Harry Potter controversy? All these people up in arms about a boy wizard? I still have parents that don't allow their kids to read them, and that's their choice. And I hate banning books. I really do. It makes me uncomfortable. I think it's easier to expose kids to tough things through books and discussion rather than through TV and movies.
And teenage girl books are the toughest! Some parents might think it's ok for their daughter to read about kissing and boys. Some don't. Some parents buy their daughters books I don't shelve here and I wouldn't recommend for a sixth grader. Some parents still have their daughters reading Little House on the Prairie. And don't get me wrong...I love some Laura Ingalls, but many seventh and eighth grade girls are beyond that.
So, all this floats around in my head everytime I shelve a new book. Who will love it? Who will it offend? Where do I draw the line?
I would love to hear from some Moms out there. Especially of teenage girls. Where do you draw the line?