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