25 September 2014

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, which is a week every year dedicated to the freedom to read without censorship.

Because let's be honest: banning and challenging books is about censorship. It's about people (parents, members of the community) trying to decide what others should or should not be allowed to read.

The reasons people use to challenge books are subjective at best (offensive language) and invasive at worst (religious viewpoint*), which gives an even better reason not to censor reading in public schools and libraries.

What gives you the right to say I shouldn't read a book because you think the language is inappropriate? What's next?

Can we also not ignore that a lot of the books that are challenged and banned are the ones that are complex, well-written, and excellent literature, while books that are really "brain candy" are left on the shelves, leaving children the inability to challenge themselves? Just want to point that out.

I will never censor what my children read. I will encourage them to read anything and everything they want. They may find something a little beyond them, and when they do, I'll do my best to help them understand it. I will continue to make reading recommendations to my children. And they will always be welcome to borrow anything off my shelves.

Here is a list of the top ten banned/challenged books in 2013 (out of a list of 307 challenges reported by the Office of Intellectual Freedom):

  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey; Reasons: offensive language, violence, unsuited to age group
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James; Reasons: nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chomsky; Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya; Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith; Reasons: political viewpoint, racism, violence

I urge you to read books that have been challenged or banned. There are plenty to choose from. Don't shy away from any book. Don't support censorship. Challenge yourself.

And happy reading.

*Oh, you better believe I'll be doing a future post on why religious viewpoint has no place in censoring books in public school libraries.

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