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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: A LOOK AT A CONTROVERSIAL BOOK

Updated: Aug 7

by MORGAN YOUNG


A controversy recently erupted over books for young teenagers that are on the shelves of the Ashland Public Library. The titles like Puberty is Gross and This is Our Rainbow seem to have angered a vocal minority who have demanded they be removed. My good friend recently bought all the books that are being debated and she shared the books with me. One of them, Own Your Period by Chella Quint is being called pornographic by this group. So I’d like to share with you why it is not.

First, periods are a reality, and the author is a leading expert on menstruation in the UK and actually advises on policy and education. Quint says she created this book because she remembers, as a pre-teen, feeling anxious about starting her own period and experiencing negative and embarrassing feelings about it. She's worked with a lot of kids on the topic, and when she decided to create this book, she asked them for their best ideas on how to teach the topic. THEY said, "don't leave anything out."

People are often uncomfortable talking about periods, and many young people end up relying on their friends for information. While friends are great, 12-year-olds (the average age periods begin) aren't the most accurate source of information, and a lot of misconception and myths subsequently arise, like females being able to sync their periods with the moon.

Parts of the book focus on the headquarters of where periods happen. There are accurate drawings in a cartoon style that help clarify what happens during menstruation. These drawings show a spectrum of what's normal with advice on how to talk to family members and your doctor if you feel you're off the charts in any way.

This book is wonderfully comprehensive, including

- examining the ways emotions fluctuate with your cycle

- explaining how periods can affect other areas of the body like breast tenderness and acne

- options for managing periods including cramps, charting

your cycle, and choosing menstrual products

- general reproductive wellness including PAP smears and the HPV vaccine

- and life phases through post-menopause

If anything, the pictures in this book should be praised for their inclusivity. On just one spread, you can see a person with limited mobility, another with vitiligo, an interracial couple, a gay couple, and a person wearing a hearing aid. On another page, there's a doctor who had a repaired cleft palate. As a former preK- grade 3 educator and current mom, I've read a LOT of children's books and don't ever recall seeing that!

Own Your Period is being called pornographic by a group that wants them removed from the Ashland Public Libary. For me, it is a reference book that is meant to be read and revisited. If you feel books like these should remain exactly where they are, in the nonfiction section where teens hang out at the Ashland Public Library, I encourage you to attend the rally at the Ashland Public Library to support our librarians on August 11 from 4-5pm. The Board is meeting at 4:30 P.M. to discuss the issue and is open to the public. Sign up to attend here.


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