Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week!

Today as I walked into my school library I saw a bunch of little packages wrapped in brown paper with the word "censored" in red across the front on a bunch of the tables and counters and everywhere and was really confused for a second. Then I saw the sign that said "Banned Books Week" and got really excited. I headed over to the table to read about it. There were a whole bunch of banned books standing on the table (including Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings!) among others which I've heard of, and some I haven't. There were also little buttons very similar to this one:
They had bits from news articles about different book bannings(and burnings), and this list: "the top 10 ludicrous reasons for banning a book", and a poster that had pictures of the authors whose books had been banned or challenged most. And those little brown packages? Each one talked about a banned book and the reason it had been banned.

It was really strange reading all the stuff on display. My opinion kept on changing with each thing I read. But after thinking about it for a while, I think I have come to the conclusion that I am against book banning. Let me explain my reasons for this:

Reading is one of my great loves in life and I have always tried to read books that were clean and wholesome(judging by my own standards and those of my family).

However, one thing I have been grateful for as I've been growing up, is that my parents have always left that choice up to me. And not just the choice of what I read, but also how much I read. My family has been visiting the library weekly since before I can remember, and during those visits my mother would tell me and my siblings that we could check out as many books as we could carry. Which for a five or six year old like myself, was usually pretty close to the library's limit of 25. And I took advantage of that. Oh boy, did I take advantage of that. I would walk up to the check-out counter with my library card between my teeth because my hands were so full, barely able to lift my stack up to the librarians. And that hasn't changed much through the years, though I don't still check out 25 books each time (and I swear I don't still carry my library card in my teeth). But I think if it hadn't been for my mom fueling my love of books by reading to me SO much, putting up with the semi-frequent over-due fines, and not ever disillusioning me by pointing out that I might not have time to read ALL of those books, or telling me what I could or couldn't read, I wouldn't love it so much.

Many of the books that have been banned/challenged are classics, and while I'm not saying that the classics are examples of great literature with perfect role models (because they totally aren't), there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the classics, even if only from the mistakes of the characters. Isn't that the way we learn? Through our mistakes, and those of others?

And really, outside of our own families we don't (and shouldn't) have any control over what is read.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
--1st Amendment to the Constitution--

This is one of the freedoms that was fought for us hundreds of years ago when this country was founded and unfortunately, we must continue fighting for each day.

So this week, celebrate your right to read what you want! Click here, browse the lists of challenged/banned books, and pick either your favorite that you have read, or one that you haven't, but would like to. And, if you're really ambitious you can challenge yourself to pick a book AND finish it this week!

Now, I actually haven't read a whole lot on that list but my favorite hands-down is #1 for the last decade! The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. :) I also enjoyed Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. One that I am going to read this week: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

Your turn!


  1. What a fantastic post. I think most people think of banned books as a thing of the past. I graduated from high school a little over 20 years ago. In my youth, attending schools in the South, I was disciplined twice, by paddling, for reading banned books on school property. The first was Huck Finn by Mark Twain and the second was Forever by Judy Blume. Now, while I understand that Forever is probably not an appropriate book for a 5th grader, having moved from California, I had no idea that there was even such a thing as banned books. I've been reading since "I was crawling' as my mom would say. Still, that decision to discipline for an inappropriate book was a discipline my parents should have decided. Huck Finn, in 7th grade, was another on this banned list, due to sexual content. Now, the ironic thing about this is as a class we were reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Both have sexual content (TKaM has rape). Both classics. One banned. One not. Doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason.

    It is now 2011. Banned books are still in existence. Books are still being put on the "banned" list. It is very sad.

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