Mom Turns Library Scofflaw to Prevent Kids from Reading 'Gossip Girl' Series

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Tina Harden, a Florida mom, says the books on which the Gossip Girl and It Girl series are based are inappropriate for teens. Credit: Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel / MCT


Tina Harden's teenage daughter checked out four books from Seminole County's Northwest Branch library in Lake Mary, Fla. in 2008 -- one from the "Gossip Girl" series by Cecily von Ziegesar, and three from a spin-off series called "It Girl" -- and she
turned library scofflaw rather than return the books to the shelves.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Harden owes $85 in fines for the overdue books, which she holds hostage in a closet in her Longwood, Fla. home. The mom of three says she doesn't care about being dunned by bill collectors for the fees -- all she wants is for the library to put a warning label on the four titles in question, all of which chronicle the life of "Gossip Girl" fictional character Jenny Humphrey.

Harden is adamant that young tweens and teens not be introduced to the nefarious world of "Gossip Girl," which is also a popular TV show on the CW Television Network. The show is populated by wealthy, outrageously attractive New York teens who engage in sex, crime and, of course, gossip.

Jane Peterson, the county's library services manager, tells the Sentinel a warning label would be considered censorship. And, according to Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association, doing so would be unconstitutional.

"Somewhere in every library, there's something to offend everyone," she tells the newspaper. "You tolerate that because the library is trying to serve the needs of the community."

Harden is not the only mother who finds the series objectionable. Dixie Fechtel of Leesburg, Fla. wanted her neighborhood library to boot the books after her own 13-year-old daughter brought them home in 2009. She and another parent, Diane Vanetta, succeeded in persuading the Leesburg Public Library to label certain books "high school."

In an effort to get the books back from Harden, librarians at the Seminole County's Northwest Branch agreed to re-shelve them in the adult section, but Harden says she won't be satisfied until the books have warning labels. The curse words, drug-use references and sexual situations are just too much, she says, for young adults.

"The whole book was filled with everything I don't want my daughter to do or be," she tells the Sentinel.

Related: School District Bans Dictionary, Reaches Compromise

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.