You know what sucks? Censorship. It sucks in all forms, but for me, it REALLY sucks when it comes to books. I’ve never understood the concept of book banning; working so hard to keep wonderful pieces of literature out of the public’s grasp simply because the stories might contain something a handful of people don’t agree with has never made any sense to me. Differing opinions doesn’t negate something. It just opens the door to discussion. That’s what’s so great about reading.
And this is why I’m super gung-ho about Banned Books Week. During the last week of September every year, libraries and book stores across the country celebrate Banned Books Week in an attempt to draw attention to the problems of censorship. They mount displays featuring challenged books, they host events—and, of course, they read. They read EVERYTHING. Anything that has ever been banned or challenged is fair game. And guess what? Today is the first day of Banned Books Week! Hoorah! This year, it runs from September 24 through October 1, and believe you me, I’m going to be reading my HEAD off during that time. Not that I’m not usually doing that anyway, but I’ll be doing it with extra oomph.
The thing that really gets me about the whole issue is that so much of the censorship going on these days seems to be geared towards kids and teenagers. This, I think, is particularly damaging. The whole point of children’s and young adult literature is to broaden the mind. Kids and teens develop at an astonishing rate, and reading material that challenge them—in form, in content, or in both—well, that’s the way you teach them to think, isn’t it? REALLY think, I mean, not just regurgitate things other people have told them.
So in celebration of Banned Books Week, here’s my banned books reading list. You’ll notice that they’re all children’s or young adult lit; they’ve also all faced unjust opposition. I loved all of these books as a kid, and I still love them all now. Moreover, I was lucky enough to have a number of fantastic teachers teach them to me and my classmates in school starting from an early age. Because these teachers dared to bring these books into the classroom, I learned to think outside the box, a skill that has been, hands down, the most important one I have ever picked up. EVER. So to all my teachers, from preschool all the way through grad school, as well as all of the unconventional teachers I’ve ever had (that includes you, Mum and Dad): Thank you.
Learn more about Banned Books Week here.