Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Book Week

This week is the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week. This is a celebration of books that have been challenged or banned in schools or libraries. I have never really thought of this being a problem. I don't have kids and maybe that's why it has never crossed my mind that a book would need to be banned. Books get challenged for all sorts of reasons including use of "offensive language," "sexually explicit" material, and being "unsuited for any age group." Books get challenged with good intentions and because people want to protect mostly children.

I personally think that this can be a problem. First, just because you have decided you don't think that a book is not appropriate that for you and your kids, doesn't mean that you should be able to take away from others. I want my future child, my husband, and myself to be well rounded and be able to read all kinds of different books.

Hubs made a good point, he said, "When you go and challenge a book in the library, not only are restricting the book from your kids, but also other kids and other adults. You are affecting every single patron of that library." Just something to think about before you try to ban a book from public access.

Second, if you are the parent, then be a parent. If you are worried about the content of a book, YOU read it first and make the choice for YOUR child if they can read it or not. In my experience the more you tell someone they can't do something, then the more they will want to do it. I would suggest, if you read something that don't agree with, then use it as a teachable moment. For example, it is not secret that I love Twilight. It has been on the challenged list several times. I concede that I wouldn't want my 13 year old daughter thinking it's okay for a hot boy to sneak into her room at night, like Edward does. I'd like to think instead of saying don't read Twilight I would explain why this was not okay and not as romantic as it might seem on the surface. (Uh, hello, stalker!)

Third, reading (almost) anything is better than reading nothing. Therefore, whatever it takes to get someone interested in reading is a good thing. And fourth, I think it is a shame to silence an idea, just because it doesn't match your idea. We should all get to decide for ourselves and our own families what is acceptable. There are so many great books, both classic and modern, on the challenged list. It's almost criminal to think these would not be accessible to people everywhere.

Some of my favorites from the banned/challenged lists:
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

Here is a list of list of frequently challenged classics.

Books banned/challenged in 2011.

Top 100 banned/challenged books from 2000-2009.

These are MY opinions. Feel free to disagree. I probably won't change my mind but I think it is important to hear all sides of an argument.

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