Each year the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of books banned, or challenged for removal, in libraries and classrooms.
The main reasons for these challenges are because of parental concerns over what they consider inappropriate language, sexual content, violence, drug and alcohol use, and racism or religious intolerance.
After perusing the lists from the previous five years, I could very well be labeled subversive. I apparently read banned books… a lot.
Many of the books I have in my own extensive library, have made the challenged lists multiple years. A sin that I am rather proud to confess.
Throughout my life, when everything else went side-wickered and I couldn’t make sense of what was happening, books were my constant stabilizing factor. I could escape to a world of my choosing whenever I needed. I think that is why, when given an option, I would rather buy a book (hardcover, thankyouverymuch) than borrow it from the library. That way I can return to that special place, and favorite characters, whenever I want.
I have a ridiculous number of books in my house, to the point of them being an obsession. I have one bookshelf devoted solely to my ‘to-read’ pile. It’s stuffed to overflowing. I LOVE books and reading, and am sad so many of my favorites were removed from libraries and school curriculum. It pisses me off that a small group of people, or even a single person, can effectively censor my reading choices, anyone’s choices.
If parents are uncomfortable with their child reading a particular book for school, deal with that in your house, don’t try to take away my access to the book too. That’s not your decision to make.
Banned Books Week is Sept. 22-28. Check out the 2012-2013 list of banned and challenged books, then exercise your first amendment rights, and read a banned book.
From my personal stacks:
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Romeo and Juliet – Wm. Shakespeare
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Slaughterhouse-Five: – Kurt Vonnegut
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
The Day After Tomorrow – Robert A. Heinlein
Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Grendel – John Gardner
The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
Wicked: The LIfe and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West – Gregory Maguire
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold