Is it okay for my parents to forbid my reading certain genres of books?

Ever since I was little, whenever I start reading a book, my mom and dad take it away if it’s fiction and tell me to read instructional books. Can I insist upon reading whatever books I find interesting?

Examples of books I want to read: Abarat, Dune, The Belgariad.


Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

I started reading at an extremely young age. I was familiar with the alphabets even before I joined my kindergarten. And then I picked up English very quickly. By the time I was 5, my parents were buying me story-books that had pictures and words. I devoured books after books. Seeing my insatiable appetite for reading, my parents closely monitored what I was reading.

At the age of 6, I became one of the youngest members of the British Council Library here. I finished all the books available in the children’s section before a year ran out and then moved on to the senior section.

My parents were always extremely careful of what I was reading. They took an active role in seeing to it that I always has access to some of the best available reading material. As a child, I was given magazines to read like Nat Geo and Readers’ Digest. I was, however, strictly prohibited from reading American comics…specifically Archie comics…because my parents didn’t want me to develop that slang in my vocabulary. Dad used to call it the ‘wanna-gonna’ slang 😀

I grew up reading classic English literature – lots of Jane Austen, works by the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare’s plays, and some really good Indian books like those by R.K.Narayan, Ruskin Bond, etc.

I did read comics…but they had to be approved by dad. No sleaze, no vulgarity, no cuss words, no ‘wanna-gonna’ slang. I used to read lots of Tintin, Asterix, Phantom, and several titles published by Amar Chitra Katha in India.

There are two major outcomes that came out of this parental monitoring…

  1. My vocabulary is several times better than most people I know and is one that is devoid of any expletives. I am grammar and spelling conscious to a fault.
  2. I refuse to read any written text that is sub-standard. I don’t read anything and everything. I am now competent enough to know how to weed out the trash and select just the gems from the ocean of written material available today.

My parents never told me that if I read sub-standard books, I’m doing something wrong. Why would you spend your time reading that piece of trash when there are already so many astounding books out there, child? For a person who reads, time is very precious. So many books, so less time!

I strictly stayed away from Harlequin titles and Mills&Boon novels as I couldn’t really say in which way they were benefiting me. I was royally wasting my time reading cheap sleaze. I did have better things to do. Oh! And I still use that line a lot → So many books, so less time! ^_^

Whenever I buy books even now, out of sheer habit, I feel odd if I don’t show them to my parents. Dad (as always) piles them on the coffee table, picks them up one by one and reads the synopsis at the back for each book. And he gives his comments for each one too. So somehow, somewhere within me, I still have this urge to read only those books that my parents would approve of. I still don’t read that would make them crinkle their noses. I am an adult now and I could read whatever I choose to read. But I know that if I have their approval, the book will be good. Good to read, and good for me.

Because of the kind of books I was raised on, I am now unable to read anything that would lower my standards…in any way. I feel disgusted reading anything that uses too much vulgarity and sexual innuendos as a part of literature so that they sell.

Parents monitoring what their children read is totally fine by me…if it is done the way my parents did it. They never interfered in the genres of books that I read. They just didn’t want me to be exposed to lower standards at an impressionable age. They aimed to set my standards high. And I must say that they did succeed rather fabulously! 🙂

Is it okay for my parents to forbid my reading certain genres of books?

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