16951176My students are asking for books about Kanye West and Serena Williams left and right this week, and this is causing me a huge dilemma of conscience. These celebrities haven’t actually broken any laws with their bad behavior, and that was my criteria for discarding our Michael Vick, Paris Hilton, and Chris Brown books. And I had to have long conversations with my young students explaining why I was getting rid of those books.

But with these celebrities, I’m walking a fine line and don’t know what to do with the books. Many of them don’t actually know why everyone’s talking about Mr. West and Ms. Williams lately; they just hear the names and want to learn about them. They aren’t criminals, but they’re behavior is certainly not something for young students to admire. So do I discard the books based on my own feeling that these are poor role models, or do I leave them in the collection and hope that last week’s events won’t repeat themselves. Everyone gets a second chance, right?

But I don’t think this is the way for elementary school children to find their idols. I’d like to think that these celebrities would not want young fans to become curious about them for the things they do wrong but rather the things they do right.

I don’t know much about Serena Williams beyond her obvious talents, but I won’t lie: I’m a big fan of Kanye’s music. As an adult I’m trying to decide if his antics will prevent me from buying his future albums. I prefer to know as little as possible about the artists I admire; it lets me keep my sanity and just see the art. Gossip to the heavens about the famous for being famous, those who bring nothing to the table but their celebrity. But those with actual talents? Where do we draw the line between just admiring an artist for their work and being influenced by the way they live their lives? Especially today where their “brand” necessitates a tremendous amount of time (and therefore scrutiny) in the limelight. And where is that line for 9-year-olds?