Sunday Update! Banned Books Week 2013 Edition

Today marks the start of Banned Books Week 2013. According to the Banned Books Week website

"Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982....According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported."

What are banned and challenged books?

Challenged books are those that people want to have removed from libraries, school curricula, etc, while banned books are those that are removed from these places. 

Books are banned and challenged for lots of reasons including language, sexual situations, violence, positive portrayal of homosexuality, and not appropriate for certain ages. 

For more information check out this link on the ALA website.

Why do I think it is important to read challenged and banned books?

Do I think all books are classics? No. There are a lot of books out there that I think are bad and/or poorly written; and there are a lot of books out there that are just not my cup of tea. Do I think all books are appropriate for all age groups? Of course not. I wouldn't hand an 8-year old Fifty Shades of Grey.At the same time, I think people should be allowed to read what they want and have access to those books. Every time my husband and I discuss banned books, we always end up agreeing that books can be a great way for kids (and adults) to experience new situations safely. 

Banned and challenged books have let me experience the life of a young Jewish girl fearing for her life (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl), the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War (The Things They Carried), and the life of a young, black woman in the South in the 1930s (The Color Purple). Each of these books impacted me in different ways. I can't say that these books made me feel happy and wonderful inside (The Color Purple has love in it but so much pain as well); however, they gave me experiences that I can't have and some I don't want to have. These are experiences that taught me something about people and about me.

Although banned and challenged books have given me important experiences, I feel that they need to be couched with education, especially when the readers are kids. For example, I read The Things They Carried and The Color Purple in school. My teachers helped me understand what was happening in these books and how to process it. It saddens me when books are banned from school curricula, because school is the best place for discussing these books! Teachers can give kids the framework for understanding these books. Of course, not all books can be taught in school, so I also think it is important for parents to discuss these books with their kids. I am watching Mad Men right now, and in one of the episodes Sally reads a news story about a man who murdered several women. She spends several hours frightened until she talks with her grandmother about what she read. Although her grandmother purposely frightens her a bit, she does take the time to explain what was happening. In that moment, the news story goes from something scandalous to a teachable moment. This is ultimately what bothers me about banning and challenging books. We are hiding books instead of discussing the difficult subject matter. 

Okay, I think I have rambled enough for the day. I will be blogging every day this week regarding Banned Books Week. 

Go forth and read a banned book! Here are a few lists to keep you busy.

Back to Home Back to Top Reading Is Fun Again. Theme ligneous by Bloggerized by Chica Blogger.