I think banned and challenged books are relevant all year long, not just on Banned Book Week. I don’t think anyone has to right to tell other people that they can’t read a particular book.
Books continue to be challenged, banned, pulled from libraries and schools throughout the year, preventing children and teens from accessing books that could engage their imaginations and minds, fuel their spirits, and open their hearts. Just recently, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass was removed from the Grand Blanc School district after one parent complained. They say it’s being removed because because the teacher didn’t follow district procedures in obtaining approval to teach it, and perhaps that’s the case. But keeping anyone from reading a book because of policies? It’s absurd. According to the article, some churches even say that the Golden Compass is anti-Christian, which is a shocker to me, given the religious overtones in the text.
What is this fear of books? Because it is fear. Is it that they fear it will open the reader’s mind to new experiences, to a more open-minded way of thinking that isn’t as oppressive as their own? Books can. That’s the beauty of them.
I love this YouTube video by the ALA about Banned Books week. They do a wonderful job of pairing the book with the reasons given, and it starts to become clear that the people who are the most vocal about trying to suppress books and information are the ones who have trouble with sex being discussed, especially when it’s gay sex, but sex, period. I don’t think that’s any surprise.
Thanks to Elizabeth Bird at Fuse #8 for the link.
I really like what YA author Chris Crutcher, who’s had some of his books banned, said about the issue: “Some people do shy away from my books, and the books of far better writers than I, but I don’t have a problem with it. Actually, they have a problem with it, because they are telling their adolescents that they don’t have the courage to deal with some of the really tough issues. They’re also telling them that they are not the people to turn to in a crisis.”
Well said, Crutcher.
So what can we do about it? Read banned books. Recommend them to others. Write about it. And care about books, passionately, the way those of us who read do.