A word has come to my attention. It also seems to have come to the attention of school librarians everywhere. And I'm going to use the word more than once in this post, so if you are offended by words, feel free to click along to another site for now.
For those of you who are left, the word of the day is 'scrotum'. See, that didn't hurt, did it? And yet, school librarians are banning a book just because it uses that word.
Here's the story. The book is called "The Higher Power of Lucky". It is written by Susan Patron, who also happens to be a librarian. And the book is this year's winner of the Newbury Award, the most prestigious award in children's literature. Sort of like being named the Oprah Book of the Month. The book was first published last November, but it wasn't until it won the award that people started to take notice.
And what did they find? Right on page one, Lucky, the 10-year-old heroine of the book, overhears the word when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog on the scrotum.
“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book says. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”
There ya go. That's the word. Used in context. And it is freaking people out. The book has already been banned in a handful of states and it looks like there are more planning to follow.
The author says the intended audience is 9-12 year olds. Sounds right to me. When my kids were that age, they had heard the word scrotum. They knew what is was. They also knew testicles, balls, nut sack, berries, and probably some words to describe it that I don't even know! Kids know these things. This just doesn't seem like a horrific thing to me.
But one librarian who was interviewed said this was what she would call the "Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope." Has this woman ever heard Howard?!?! Howard talks about scrotums at the breakfast table!
I'm just baffled by peoples' reaction. I can't believe a library would censor a book based on the proper use of the name of a body part. But one elementary school librarian said parents wouldn't want to have to explain that kind of vocabulary. Really? I would not want my kids to know about their bodies? Gee, don't speak for me, lady! If I'm nervous about explaining vocabulary to my kids, that is my issue. Not theirs. Not the author's. And not the librarian's.
I'm sure a few of you may be thinking...gee, glad Em isn't the person making the final call on the books my kids read! And that's okay. Every parent has to make that choice. But that seems to be the key. It is the parent's choice. When we ban books and censor material, parents never get the opportunity. I trust myself to make choices for my kids. I don't trust the Word Police.