Did you know it’s Banned Book Week? I think this is especially poignant with the recent attempt at challenging Laurie Halse Anderson’sSpeak and Twisted; Ellen Hopkins’ disinvite and the censorship of Burned; and the recent challenge of Jo Knowles’ Lessons from a Dead Girl. Those are all wonderful, powerful, truly *important* YA books that deserve to reach people–that teens and adults should have the chance to discover and read.
I may be extra sensitive to book banning, since my parents literally burned and tore up some of my favorite books, and prevented me from having access to books through removing all my books for weeks at a time as punishment when I (quite desperately) depended on books as survival. And also because they consistently tried to silence me.
Books are so important, and a way for people to find validation, support, and information in a safe way that they wouldn’t otherwise find out about. They offer healing, a widening of the world and of dreams, and for me, they have been soul food. So to hear about people trying to prevent others from reading any book makes me angry. If you don’t want to read a book yourself, that’s fine–walk away from it. But to try to keep a book from everyone, or from a group of people? That’s not okay.
I found one of my favorite picture books, And Tango Makes Three, about a gay penguin couple, through book banning and challenges. So sometimes book banning may help to get the word out…to *some* people. But it prevents others from finding these wonderful books, and it saddens and angers me that this happens at all–and still happens today. To me it seems like an act of oppression, and of power. Something I’m quite familiar with.
I hope you’ll consider buying (or borrowing) and reading some of these banned books–and sharing them with others. I hope, too, that you’ll speak out about book banning–write a post about it, share your thoughts on FaceBook or Twitter.. And if you haven’t yet read Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful post on the guy equating Speak and its scenes of rape with porn, and many of the other powerful posts, please do. I really believe that in speaking out, we can help make a difference–as seen by the fellow authors boycotting the teen festival that disinvited Ellen Hopkins, resulting in increased attention and awareness, and a cancelled event, and the Speak Loudly Twitter campaign for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.