What’s Good in a Book?

What’s Good in a Book?

Emma Ward

Recently in Utah, there have been deliberations on if books, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” should be pulled from school libraries and English reading requirements.

Issues like this can cause questions like, what makes a book inappropriate for students and who decides what books are allowed in the library. After an interview with the school librarian, Bonnie Odd, she explained that she is in charge of what books are purchased for the library and also decides which books not to supply. Mrs. Odd describes that it’s not banning books, but rather “being a professional selector”.

When asked why she would choose to not purchase a book, Mrs. Odd replied that students will sometimes ask for books that they know probably aren’t allowed in the library to try to be edgy. In situations such as this, Mrs. Odd says that she looks for other options on where the book can be found like the public library or online.

When the book in question becomes more difficult to discern if it’s too inappropriate for Ridgeline’s library, Mrs. Odd explains that the book has to have a real plot and not just an overabundance of inappropriate scenes.

Along with observing the author’s statement on what might be inappropriate in their books, Mrs. Odd also always makes sure to read any purchased books herself so that she can accommodate a more authentic impression of the books’ content.

However, Mrs. Odd also expresses “One of the skills that kids need to learn is: this book isn’t good for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good for you”. She adds that this is a necessary experience for students to have because it enables individual choices and self-discovery.

Often, when determining whether or not to provide a more controversial book, Mrs. Odd explains that she has to make sure that her perception of the book is unbiased towards its content. She clarifies that “I really make sure that it’s because of the content and not because of the characters” when deciding if a scene in a book is too inappropriate.

Additionally, Mrs. Odd illustrates that she likes “books that show consequences of bad choices”. So, if there is a more questionable scene in a book, Mrs. Odd says she prefers that the book also show how that characters’ wrong choice affects their life.

Now for whether or not books such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be removed from the library or a required reading assignment, Mrs. Odd confirms that there are other schools that have pulled “To Kill a Mockingbird” from their shelves. Ridgeline English teacher Mrs. Smith also believes that something like this would most likely happen in the future. However, Mrs. Odd expresses that this is an extreme example of books being removed and is not an immediate concern at the moment.