Welcome back to another issue of the Daily Banning. Let’s talk about our preteen years. Remember that terrible time? Everything about your body was changing. You felt awkward, stinky, hairy, uncoordinated, zitty, cranky, and generally clueless. …and all you wanted in the whole world was to be cool. It’s called puberty, Gentle Readers, and it wasn’t just you. It sucked for everybody. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a user’s manual that explained what was going on? Enter Lynda Madaras, California sex education teacher, and her What’s Happening to My Body? books for girls and boys. At this point in our discussions, you shouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that these books (targeted at kids aged 8 to 15) have been banned due to inappropriate sexual content.
The books hit the scene in the early 1980s and have been updated multiple times since then. Madaras talks straightforwardly about menstruation, reproduction, breasts, emotional changes, body hair, pimples, masturbation, and what’s going on puberty-wise with the opposite sex. Newer releases for girls contain additional information about eating disorders, unwanted attention because of early development, information on eating right, exercise, AIDS, STDs, and birth control. Based on my research it looks like the boy’s version is similar but also addresses growth spurts, erections, and voice changes.
This banning is not well documented so my research options have been limited. Apparently, those challenging this series of books are reluctant to go on record. (Coward much?) I’ve found critics citing anatomical drawings, medical descriptions, and definitions of slang terms provided in the book as evidence of its age inappropriateness, but that’s about it.
I’ve written and deleted a lot of sarcastic comments here about how we shouldn’t tell kids anything at all about their bodies and watch how they deal with puberty because, hey... funny!, but it isn’t funny. Some kids don’t have responsible caring adults in their lives who they can talk to about this stuff. Wouldn’t it be kind of a double victory if a scared confused kid 1) went to a library; and 2) found out that they’re perfectly normal? …or at least the same kind of abnormal as everyone else.