Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Banned Books Week!

If you've been following along with me for a bit, then you know I *heart* books. And you've probably gathered {or I hope that you have} how I feel about censorship and "monitoring" what people read. Its distinctly un-American at its very core; we have freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of opinion in this country. It is something that is very precious to me and something that I actively work to promote. I'm sure you're not surprised that I {really} love Banned Books Week!

{Source: American Library Association}

I don't quite get the people who seek to have books banned from schools, from libraries, from anyplace because they don't agree with an idea or thought. I've read books that have made me angry, that have presented some seriously false information, that might be obscene by some standards. But to ban it? Certainly, in schools, there is a line to be drawn. We don't allow elementary students to read The Joy of Sex, nor do we probably even *have* that book in elementary school libraries. But, even if it was, its up to parents to decide if their child gets to read a book just as its now up to me to decide if I get to do so {but, my parents never really limited what I could read}. Its not up to the school board, or the library, or a politician. Individual choice.

Here are lists of known challenged books from the past several years. Among the "offenders" last year:

The Diary of Anne Frank {homosexual themes}
Water for Elephants {sexual themes}
The Hunger Games {violence}
Brave New World {Race, sex}

Books from the Top 100 novels of all-time that have been challenged/banned can be found here.

The top 100 books banned from 2000-2009 can be found here.

In honor of banned books week, I pledge to read a banned book. I might not like it. I might not agree with it, but I have only read 12 of the novels listed on the top 100 banned books from the last decade:

Harry Potter; J.K. Rowling
The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn; Mark Twain
Forever Judy Blume {boy, was I embarrassed when I read this in middle school!}
The Color Purple; Alice Walker
To Kill a Mockingbird; Harper Lee
The Giver; Lois Lowry {total fave of my childhood}
The Face on the Milk Carton; Caroline B. Cooney
Snow Falling on Cedars; David Guterson
Slaughter-House Five; Kurt Vonnegut
The Kite Runner; Khalid Hosseni {another favorite}
Summer of my German Soldier; Bette Green
A Wrinkle in Time; Madeline L'Engel {LOVE LOVE LOVE! This is my standard donation to book drives and pick-a-child Christmas present drives}

I have read four more from the 1990-1999 most banned books list:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Mark Twain
Pillars of the Earth; Ken Follett {WHY was this banned? No idea.}
Lord of the Flies; William Goldman
The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy; Anne Rocquelaire {AKA, Anne Rice}

This, friends, is a problem. I've somehow missed a whole wealth of awesome books {The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, Fahrenheit did these slip by?!} Out of roughly 200 novels {probably 150-175 with the repeats} I have read16. Gah! So, next on the list {because I have it on my Kindle!} is: Bridge to Terebithia, another novel on both lists.

Will you join me? Will you read a banned book this week? Will you fight to keep censorship out of our libraries and away from our books?

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