Let’s go there. Banned books. One thing that makes me unbelievably angry is that people have the audacity to ban a book or books. They have the gumption to tell me, my children, you, and your family what they can and cannot read. Whose decision is it to pick up a book or to not pick up a book? Well, it is your own decision and no one else’s.
Let me start with a story. Something that has stuck with me over the years. I was in Advanced Placement English my senior year of high school. Sometimes I wonder how I got there because, honestly, I was one messed up kid, but that’s another story for another day. Anyway. AP English. It was all girls. Yet another aside. Okay. We had to pick a book to read and write a report on. I don’t even remember what I chose to read for this, but another girl in this small, intimate class decided to ask if she could read The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Great book, even better author. What’s the catch here? That book was banned at our small town school and had been for years. I didn’t even know that it was banned until the discussion came up in class. How can a school that celebrates banned books week have a banned book? Hello! Contradiction! The girl was allowed to read the book, but was told she could not tell anyone else outside of the class that she was reading it and she couldn’t bring the book to school. That has stuck with me all these years and now that I am raising my own children in the same school district I wonder if they have unbanned the book. Something for me to look into sometime, I suppose.
The American Library Association has a list of banned books. This needs to be updated frequently I am sure as libraries and schools are constantly banning another book. The list can be seen here: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/ Feel free to take a look, but be prepared to be outraged by the wonderful books on the list.
Call your local library and local school district to see what they have banned. If they have something banned, let them know that you plan to contest the banning. There is never a good reason to ban a book. If we ban books about history, we lose some history and are doomed to repeat it. I, myself, have a hard bound copy of Mein Kempf. Do I believe in what it has to say? HELL NO! But if it’s hidden away, what could possibly happen then? We need to know what Hitler had to say so we don’t repeat the terror he enveloped all of Europe in.
A lot of books are banned for sexual content. I don’t know about you, but I lost my virginity in high school although much later than many of my friends. It wasn’t because of the books that I read (my parents did not censor my reading material at all). It was because I thought I was in love (another story for another time). Reading about sex does not make a teenager want sex, experiment with sex, or anything. It can sometimes tell them more realistic visions of sex than they already have. It can sometimes provide facts that are being kept out of sex education classes. But it doesn’t make someone go have sex. It may even change their mind.
Way too many books are banned due to a community or person’s religious views. You know what? I’m not even going to go there. I’m just going to say one title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Anyone else remember how many times it was banned when it first came out. And STILL is!
SO… Don’t ban books. Let people read what they want to read. Reading is enjoyment. It is an escape. It is life. Let it stay that way. When we tell others what they can and cannot read we take that away from them. No one deserves that.