I’m a writer. And as a writer, I write whatever the hell pops into my head. Just the other day, I wrote a flash piece about a necromancer who raises corpses by sneezing. I write whatever the hell I want. I’m also an avid reader and enjoy sharing my enthusiasm with fellow readers, regardless of age. It’s a great escape, it’s a great pastime, and it helps a child’s mind grow.
Which is why I call bullshit on parents telling children what they can and cannot read. Let me preface this by saying there are certain things children shouldn’t read until they’re older. Anything with sexual content, for example. But with fiction (science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, literary, whatever), children should be allowed to explore, to find out on their own what they like and don’t like. It’s great when parents introduce their children to books they loved when they were younger (I know my future progeny will bask in the glory that is Harry Potter and anything Brandon Sanderson has written), but there is a fine line between suggesting and deciding for them. I work in a bookstore, I work in publishing, and I see this on a daily basis. Mom won’t let her child read Harry Potter because it’s “too scary.” Dad won’t let his son read John Green because Green’s books aren’t “boy books.” Parents steer their children toward the contemporary/modern fiction section because science fiction, fantasy, and horror “aren’t serious” and will skew the mind.
Fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you.
Books aren’t gender specific. They might be written for a certain age group and geared more toward a gender, but that doesn’t make a fucking book a boy or a girl. A book is compilation of pages that tell a story, sometimes multiple stories—that’s it. You think Harry Potter is too scary for your child? How about you let them read and find out for themselves. John Green’s fiction isn’t right for your boy? How about you let him decide; let him read what makes him happy. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror aren’t serious? Fuck you, you pretentious Vonnegut-humping pricks. I know I’m especially in biased with this last bit, but what exactly doesn’t make SFF and horror serious? Is it the examination of social, political, and religious strife within a made up world that borrows from our own? Is it the immense amount of time creating a readable fictional language? Is it the characters with whom so many of us can relate to? Please, tell me more about why genre fiction isn’t serious.
I can’t stand when parents decide what their children can and cannot read. It vexes me to know end. To any parents who stumble upon this foul-mouthed entry, I implore you—let your children pick out books on their own. Let them explore Hogwarts, or traverse Narnia. Let them spend a summer in Fablehaven, or fight alongside the Reckoners in Newcago.
Just let them read what they want.