Banned Books Week!

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This week is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to choose what you read.  I firmly believe that people have the right to choose reading material for themselves and their young children. I do not believe that people have the right to keep others from reading whatever material they might deem inappropriate for themselves or their children. That means I do not believe in book banning! I do not believe people have the right to force libraries to remove books, keeping other people from choosing what to read. I think it’s perfectly okay for a parent to choose what their own young child reads. When my now teen daughter was very young, yes, I chose her reading material for her.  When she got older, I let her choose her own books, but also gave her suggestions. I do remember that when she was 11 or 12, she asked if she could read John Green’s Looking For Alaska (which was sitting on my bookshelf). I told her I thought she should wait a couple of years, and she said, “Okay.” I wouldn’t have kept her from reading it. She read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak when she was 14, and I used that book as a conversation starter. I also told her that if she had any questions about any of the books she read, I was there for her. She’s currently reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan on my recommendation – she’s 16 years old now and I while I love sharing reading recommendations with her, she’s free to choose her own reading material. When I was in elementary school, I read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (remember that book?) and Forever by Judy Blume numerous times. Neither book made me want to be a drug-addict runaway or have sex (in fact, I do believe the first time I read Forever, a lot of the details about sex went right over my head). I think I was morbidly curious about lives completely different from my own, and reading stories was a safe way for me to explore that.

For more about Banned Books Week:

American Library Association

ALA list of challenged books (from this year and previous years – scroll down for the PDF links)

Banned, Challenged, Censored Books and Authors lists

Scholastic

Office of Intellectual Freedom (ALA) – videos of Chris Crutcher and Jay Asher supporting Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week – make a video of you reading your favorite banned books and upload it here

Amnesty International – shares a list of writers who have been persecuted/imprisoned for their writings

Happy reading!

6 responses »

  1. I remember buying FOREVER in 7th grade and clutching the brown paper bag to my chest all the way home. One of my friends saw me at the mall and asked what I’d bought. She gave me kind of a disapproving look (she was on a much more straight and narrow path). I kept that book under my bed for the longest time, afraid my mom would not be happy I’d bought it. She did end up finding it. She sat beside me, flipped through it, and told me she thought the boyfriend was a jerk. It was the first time I’d ever looked at the story in that way, and we ended up having a great discussion on why he might be a jerk, and how he could have treated Katherine differently. I’ve always appreciated that I could talk with my mom about books that matter to me, because hearing her perspective makes the reading experience that much richer. That’s the kind of relationship I hope to have with my daughters someday, too.

    • Wow Jeni! Thanks so much for sharing! How fortunate you were to be able to talk to your mom about things. While I am close to my mom now as an adult, I certainly never felt comfortable enough to discuss any “taboo” topics with her back then. I think when I read FOREVER a second time when I was a little older, I realized what a jerk Michael (was that his name?) was. And it was the first time I gave thought to the fact that those intense feelings of love might fade or go away when it came to boyfriends.

  2. I was fortunate that I was pretty much free to read whatever I wanted. I instinctively knew which books might be too “old” for me, and I was lucky to have good teachers and kind librarians who recommended quality books.

    Book banning and ignorance seem to go hand in hand. Oftentimes the accuser hasn’t read the entire book, taking things out of context. I’m always wary of reactionaries and extremists and self righteous people who somehow feel they have the right to dictate what others do. Live and let live.

    Thanks for all the great links. I think Judy Blume got many of us through adolescence.

    • Even though I couldn’t really talk to my parents about stuff when I was a kid, they never put limits on my reading, and for that I am grateful. I devoured the teen lit book section at my West Los Angeles library – ME Kerr, Paul Zindel, Robert Cormier, SE Hinton, and of course Judy Blume. I owned most of her books. It was only recently that I found out my younger sister had found my copy of FOREVER between my mattresses and she read it, too. Funny that I never knew!

  3. I agree with your stance. Kidlit can help a reader process their curiosities on certain topics without them having to go and try it out for themselves. The material that one parent might find “offensive” might be insightful to a younger reader, and therefore, I find cases of book banning very unfortunate.

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