Yep, we’re right in the middle of Banned Books Week.
This year’s Banned Books theme is Young Adult fiction. Fiction for young adults (teenagers, more or less, though actual readers of young adult books can be just about any age) draws a lot of censorship fire.
The reasons aren’t hard to guess. Teenagers make a lot of people nervous. They’re too big to be physically coerced with any guarantee of success, they’re heading toward independence of thought and action with a singleness of purpose that’s bound to frighten anybody with a vested interest in keeping them under control, and they’re exposed to all sorts of strange and threatening new ideas on a daily basis. The gatekeepers that could be relied on* to keep unwelcome ideas from getting too close to younger children – parents with the power of the purse, teachers with control over the reading list and the classroom bookshelves, librarians with the whole children’s collection in their hands – hold far less sway over teenagers with money of their own to spend and the ability to range freely in both the physical and on-line worlds.
Hence, the often frantic efforts to keep as tight a grip as possible on those sources of teenage reading material that are susceptible to control – and we all know what Princess Leia said about that.
*At least in theory – librarians these days are often dangerous radicals themselves.