I'm talking about a book I refuse to read to my child.
It's called Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Maybe you've heard of it?
There's currently a movie in theaters, and there are 29 books in the series. It's beloved, it's popular, it has a great voice, it's hilarious, and it has priceless illustrations.
But I still won't read it.
I picked it up at the used bookstore a few days ago, and after reading one chapter, offered to buy her a brand new book of her choice if she would give it back. And that's why I've read The Berenstain Bears Go To School 32 times today.
But I digress.
Why did I reject this well-written and well-loved book?
Because I don't like the message it sends to my daughter.
First of all, there's the grammar. While it's cute and funny, I feel all fidgety correcting Junie B's voice as I read, and I refuse to read a book to my kid that has blatant grammatical errors. She already has trouble with brang and brunged and brought.
Next of all, it's Junie B's negative attitude and outrageous behavior. Maybe it's funny to an older child who knows what's expected at school. But for a four-year old about to enter Kindergarten, it's just going to give her bad ideas.
Oh, I can kick people and call them names and interrupt teachers and talk back? AWESOME.
But most of all, it's because I think this book is capable of instilling fear in my mostly fearless child. She's excited about the bus. She thinks everyone will want to be her friend. She thinks her teacher is the nicest lady in the world, and school is going to be wonderful, and she's going to be happy forever.
And even if none of that is true, she's not going to hear it from me, and she's not going to hear it from a book.
I don't think Junie B. is a bad book, not at all. I just think it's not the right time. So I'm putting it high up on the bookshelf for the day in third grade when somebody is mean to her and she feels like an outcast. And then I'll tell her all about what happened to me on the bus as a kid, and we'll pull out the Junie B. Jones book and laugh about what bastards kids can be.
And that, dear friends, is why I hate censorship so much. I don't trust anyone else to make that decision for me. It's my job to read it and make a judgment and put it on the high shelf. And not just because it's got curse words or sex or violence.
Because sometimes, it's the wrong time.
One day we'll meet again, Junie B.