There’s Something Wrong With This Joint

Never underestimate the power of a banned book to get children reading

Sandi Parsons
4 min readJan 9, 2024

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A black book wrapped in chains secured by a padlock, banned stamp in right corner
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My mother waylaid me with her hands on her hips, “Show me.”
Usually, my mother paid no attention to my reading materials, so I guessed she was ‘showing an interest.’ But she couldn’t have picked a more inconvenient time. I was heading for my bedroom with my latest purchase firmly tucked under my arm.
I sighed, crossed my fingers, and hoped this interruption wouldn’t take long.
My mother read the back, opened it to a random page, and scanned it. Then she shook her head. “I think this book is too old for you.”
What?
My book disappeared into my mother’s room, leaving my reading plans in ruins.

Fortunately, I knew where my mother’s secret hidey stash lived. All I needed to read was time and a chair. I couldn’t take the risk that my mother would discover the book missing from her hidey hole or, worse, find it in my room. So I’d have to sneak my reading in when she left the house.

Each afternoon, as my mother headed to the stables, I’d streak into the kitchen, grab a chair, and head into her bedroom. I’d climb up, stand on tippy toes, then stretch my hand over the top of the cupboard to…

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Sandi Parsons

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.