30th Annual Banned Books Week!

It’s Banned Books Week, which is such a bizarre thing to say. The words “banned” and “books” just don’t gel, do they? I mean, ever since I was a young girl I was always given plenty of books to read, in fact, my parents were delighted that I had such an interest in books. That is the most surprising thing to me about the challenging/banning of books, especially ones that have affected my life and so many others lives over the years. Titles like Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, for example, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have been challenged/banned from libraries and schools among many others that are such literary gems that it literally puts such negativity on the very act of reading. Luckily, there are enough people who have the courage to stand up to this idiocy and that is how Banned Books Week began. This year things kicked off on 9/30 and will run until 10/6, which allows all of us who care about the world of literature to celebrate our freedom to read what we want, when we want, without anyone weighing in.

CHALLENGED VS. BANNED BOOKS, what it means:

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice. – Original source: ALA.org

Here are some of the titles that are personal favorites, or are on my “to read” list, that have been challenged most recently:

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – challenged for drug use, being anti-family, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexual explicitness, suicide, and unsuited for designated age group.
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – challenged for being anti-family, occult/satanic, religious viewpoint, and violence.
  3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – challenged for religious viewpoint and sexually explicit content.
  4. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – challenged for being anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitive, occult/satanic, use of offensive language, and violence.
  5. Brave New World by – Aldous Huxley challenged for being sexually explicit, offensive language, and insensitivity.
  6. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury challenged for offensive language and possibly corrupting society. Also, there was a challenge due to the bible being a burned book in the story, some thought this to be Bradbury’s way of advocating such an act.
  7. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein – challenged for teaching children to be disobedient and messy along with too many supernatural references to ghosts, demons, and devils.

The funny thing is, given the titles above, four out of the seven of these books have been made into movies that are as insanely popular as the books themselves. Whether or not someone is a fan of these books, or any of the others on the banned/challenged lists, is hardly the point. The issue is, that should books continue to be challenged and unfortunately banned from people, especially children, we will continue to grow further and further away from such an important thing that already too many people avoid or are losing interest in. Reading is becoming more of a chore than a pleasure, sadly, and with every parent that rips desirable books from their kids hands we may just lose another reader or perhaps a future author. Possibly an author that would write something so powerful to be challenged themselves. You never know. I know, for me personally, that by being able to consume endless books during my life it has greatly impacted my love for writing and has made me who I am today. So why would anyone want to take that kind of advantage away from someone, especially a child? It’s time to remove the blinders and stop thinking that every little “negative” thing in a book, movie, or television show is going to corrupt the children in our country. If they can watch the news, which is a real life nightmare waiting to happen most of the time, then they should be allowed to read these works of fiction. In that regard, how different are they really? After all, these stories aren’t raising the kids of the world and teaching them morals and values, that is the parents job. However, these stories, when perhaps paired with open discussions can become a positive and enriching learning experience, and can possibly create a new bond between child/parent.

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