Sometimes I wonder if writers of children’s books would be better off if fiction books were banned from school (except for Mice and Men of course – no school could make it from day to day without this novel).
Stories for young adults, such as the kind I write, could be banned from the school building, much as mobile phones are.
I fantasize about this. Imagine the scene. Young people, on buses, going to school, pouring over pages in their books because once in school they have to keep them hidden. In school assembly one student nudges another and slowly draws out the cover of a paperback book from their bag. The other gasps with delight, looking round to make sure no one else sees.
In registration there may be a reminder of school rules banning books and students would roll their eyes and huff and sigh at the stupidity of it. While in IT they’ll be given a lesson on web safety – how to avoid stumbling on literary web sites, book blogs, on line book shops.
JUST SAY NO TO BOOKS! the teacher might say.
Meanwhile, in corners all round the school, people would be handing over paperback books in exchange for less prized items; cigarettes, highlighter pens, lipsticks, footballs, bags of chips and cans of fizzy drink.
Someone would get caught and made an example in front of the class. The book would be held aloft and the teacher would flick through its pages roughly with a sneer. This is FORBIDDEN she would say and CONFISCATED.
The child would blanch. There would be no story to block out the long journey home or the boring lessons or the rote learning of tables. There would be no story to balance the chaos of the day or the silence of an empty house or the homework that he or she just cannot do. There would be no story to explain about good and evil and love and friendship and heartache and heroism
But the Demon Head teacher would be happy because now she wouldn’t have to pay for a school library. Ban the book I say!