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Censorship of Children

            Kerry Leigh Ellison owes her life to books. As a child, Kerry was raised by Satanists in a cult. She describes her childhood as two completely different worlds: one of her life in the day and one at night. Only in the day was Kerry "free" when at school and in the library to make decisions about her own life. At night, her life in the cult exposed her to a reality of abuse and sexual exploitation where she was taught never to question authority. She attributes her escape from the cult to the wide variety of books that showed her how to think for herself and make judgments independently. For example, Heidi made Kerry feel less alone and more understood as she yearned for the freedom found in the mountains. Pilgrim's Progress taught her to use perseverance and faith as tools to reach God and Heaven. Kerry saw a mirror image of her life in the fear, hope, and hiding of Anne Frank. And 1984 gave her a strong understanding of the double talk which permeates cult thinking. From the decisions made in the library, books eventually instilled Christianity and banished the belief in Satanism from young Kerry's life (Ellison 46-47). It is for children like Kerry that anti-censorship activists fight to keep children's literature on the shelves. Censors of children's books feel that they are protecting children by removing harmful reading material, yet censorship removes much more than books from a shelf.
             As Kerry's story confirms, books do make a difference in children's lives. Since the beginning of censorship, people on both sides of the argument have acknowledged the power which books hold in their pages (Silvey). Through the years; however, the argument itself has changed dramatically. In 1933, the largest topic of protest was based on religion by targeting books containing witchcraft, Satanism, and the occult (Ellison 46). However, in today's libraries, anything that may be offensive is targeted for censorship (Silvey).

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