Sunday, September 25, 2011

Read Banned Books - It's Your Civic Duty!

Today kicks off BANNED BOOK WEEK! I love this annual event. It reminds me of two things: 1) of all the great books I haven't yet read; 2) how stupid people can be.

Let's address #2 first because in the great tradition of #2, it shits.  Books should not be banned. What is vulgar or inflammatory to some,  might be the perfect cup of tea to others.  While I do understand that parents have a right to monitor what their child reads, to place a book on the challenged or banned list simply because it affronts your personal tastes does not mean everyone should be deprived of the wonder found between its pages.

When I read through the list of challenged and banned books, I am stunned. Most of them are books that teach great lessons about life, especially about tolerance. I am proud to say I have read a large number of them over the years, most during my school years. From an early age, I was allowed to read most anything I could get my hands on and could understand. And I am the better for it.

If you don't want your child to read a particular book, tell the teacher and together find an alternative, but don't try to deprive everyone of a wonderful and mind expanding experience because of your narrow view of the world.  That's simply selfish. And, frankly, you're not the boss of me and everyone else.

Every year on Banned Book Week, I check the lists for a book I haven't yet read. This year's pick is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I'm actually ashamed I haven't read this book. But this week that error will be corrected.

Won't you join me by picking and reading a banned book this week, and maybe even several others during the next year?  I consider it my civic duty.

To help you along, here are some links to books that have been banned or challenged.


Banned Books in the US

ABFFE's List of Banned Books

Happy Reading!


gregkshipman said...

Thank You ever-changing list of banned books.

If not for you I would never have had the pleasure of reading Gordon Parks, Steinbeck, Burroughs, Golding or John Cleland. My DNA naturally forces me to explore anything that says, 'You can do something but only those parts I designate,' Oh Lord, say I, lead me to the forbidden realm!

Just a thought; instead of spending time and energy on banning books, how 'bout diverting it to helping those who can't read... to read.

And, Sue Ann... if we gotta ban something... I'd vote to ban 'Banned Books List'... I'm just sayin' (oh... and I'm just readin')

Mark said...

Has the definition of a banned book changed? Because according to the stories I read in high school, I am a book banner. Why? Because I opted out of a couple of books. I never once said anything about the rest of the class, but that was enough to make the list back then.

Ironically, the only stories of truly banned books I could find were when teachers objected to them.

I don't know, this entire week always sets me on edge because it feels like one group trying to tell another group to shut up and be quiet. What we truly need are people open to dialoging on things on both sides, and I don't think this helps with that at all.

Having said all that, I am getting ready for a reread of Huckleberry Finn this week, and if you want to see me get wound up about something else, ask me about my feelings on the edits to this book or banning it because of the N word. Conflicted, they name is Mark.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Mark, we have this conversation every year when I post for BBW. You made a choice for yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. And there is nothing wrong with a parent choosing not to allow their children to read certain books. That is not banning or challenging books, but making personal choices. And, no, people who are in favor of BBW are NOT telling people who challenge books to "shut up." We are just voicing our opions as book challengers have voiced theirs against certain books for decades.

Personally, I have a whole list of books I find objectionable, starting with Snooki's book, but it's not my place to tell people what they can, can't, should or shouldn't read.

Standing up to people who try to push their ideology, whether it be suitable books, politics or religious beliefs, onto the majority of the population as the only true belief is something I believe we must constantly do to maintain a balance.

I think Greg has a great idea. Maybe the money spent to challenge books and the money spent to defend them should be spent on literacy.

Mark said...

I'm repeating myself? I'll have to remember not to do that next year since I hate people who repeat themselves.

*Resists the urge to post that paragraph twice.*