[library-media] Common Sense Media

Cindy Mitchell cindy.mitchell at jordan.k12.ut.us
Fri Nov 19 11:07:00 MST 2010

Much thanks to Fawn for giving the Common Sense Media info.

I have been mulling the different information that has come out about the
site.  I must admit that I have not been to the site often, because you all
probably know that I read very quickly and read almost everything for

I have been to several ALA conferences and attended sessions about
censorship and/or selection.  I found it interesting that publishers and
authors seemed to think that we should accept everything they write and
print without questioning or judging what they have supplied.  And if we do
question or if we do judge then we our obstructionists and censors and evil
­ no really, that is what I have heard them say.  Even if we try to discuss
the matter in terms of budgets and audience, it comes back to the fact that
they believe that we should buy everything they print and never make any
sort of critique about what they have printed.  At least in these kinds of

That being said, I have never had a publisher stop sending books to Kiss the
Book because they have not liked what we have said about any book.  They
know that we count the swear words and talk about mature situations and
describe violent situations.  I have really been surprised and gratified by
their response to our reviews, because I was a little worried when we first
got started with this.  And we do send every review to the publisher and
most of them get sent on to the authors (I have no control over that).

The reason I started reading everything for myself was because as a new
librarian I got burned pretty badly by buying books based on ALA and YALSA
and Booklist reviews that turned out to be very graphic in a mature nature.
I decided that I couldn¹t trust the professional reviewers tot ell me what I
needed to know about the book.  And I think most of you know what has
happened from there.

One thing that we are always encouraging parents to do is to know what their
children are reading that it is their job to raise concerns with their own
children, though it is not their right to make those choices for other
people¹s children.  So ­ the example of their parent following their child
around the bookstore or around the library is an example of parents doing
what we asked them to do with what tools they have available.

When a friend told me that Hunger Games is the hot book at the elementary
school, I was really taken aback, because if my child was 9 or 10 or 11, I
wouldn¹t want them reading Hunger Games, or City of Glass or Unwind or
Ender¹s Game.

What is our job?  To make sure that we have books that fit our audience,
that engage our audience, that sometimes challenge our audience.  We only
have some much time and so much money to fill a LOT of needs.  And I think
this site is another tool for all of us to use in making these choices.  Is
it a perfect tool, no.  Is my site a perfect tool, no.

We need lots of different tools to help us see the bigger picture.  I do not
see any harm in a review that lets me know up front what I can expect from a
book.  I have read books that had no mature content in them that I have
hated and refuse to buy.  I have read books with LOTS of mature content in
them that I have loved and would defend vehemently.  I make those choices
for my library; you make those choices for your library.  And parents can
make those choices for their children.

For those of you who have read to the end of this, thanks for listening to
my soap box.  I just had to get this off my chest.

Cindy Mitchell

-- Cindy Mitchell
South Jordan Middle School
10245 S 2700 W
South Jordan UT 84095
FAX 801-412-2930

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