JOPLIN, Mo. —
In honor of Banned Books Week, libraries across the nation have put up displays featuring shelves full of beloved titles, from "Go Ask Alice" to "Harry Potter."
The Joplin Public Library has three such displays: one in the children's department, one for teens and one for adult readers. The message of the week, sponsored by the American Library Association and other groups, is that people should decide for themselves what is fit to read, not a government or any other individual. Or, in the case of children, parents should decide.
"We always suggest that parents read the book first," said children's librarian Jeana Gockley.
But how do parents decide? In a perfect world, parents would be able to read each and every book before deciding whether their children get a crack at it. But reading takes time.
There are other ways to figure out whether a book has questionable content, Gockley said. Moms or dads with a little Internet savvy will be able to find everything they need in order to decide whether their child is ready for "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Harry Potter" or "Captain Underpants."
Gockley said reviews are great places to start, and some of the best reviews can be found on a well-known book-selling site.
"Amazon features plenty of reviews, and you can find professional reviews there," Gockley said. "That can give a good idea what the book is about initially."
There are also websites dedicated to providing parent reviews. Featuring reviews of movies, books, TV shows and more, these parenting sites can provide a bunch of information in a regular, consistent format.
But those parent review sites may have different guidelines than a parent -- religious differences, for example. Gockley said it's just as important to review the reviewer in order to determine that values match up.