Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Celebrate the Freedom to Read (Banned Books Week, 9/30-10/6)

As a writer who also holds a degree in Library Information Technology, I imagine it's probably no surprise to anyone that I am strongly opposed to censorship, and very much in support of the free and open exchange of information. And so, of course, I am a big supporter of Banned Books Week.

Hundreds of books are challenged each year (mostly by parent groups) as they attempt to have material that they deem inappropriate or offensive removed from library and classroom shelves. Because they disagree with the material, they feel that it's necessary to stop anyone else from accessing it.

Banned Books Week (now in its 30th year) aims to draw attention to the dangers of censorship, and also celebrates the fact that the majority of these challenges have failed, and the books remain available. As the American Library Association reminds us, these books are still available "only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read."

Don't get me wrong - I don't think that anyone should have something forced on them if they find it troubling or offensive. I have every right to choose not to read a book, as do you. And as a parent, I have the right to restrict what my minor children read. But I do not have the right to decide what you or your children can and cannot read based on my own feelings.

And so, as I try to do every year, I am celebrating my freedom to read by reading one of my favorite "frequently challenged" books. (Check out the ALA web site for all of the lists.) This year's pick is Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. It's an excellent book, but I haven't read it since I was in my early twenties. I figure it's about time to read it again.


How about you? Do you have any favorite banned or challenged books? Will you be doing anything special this week to celebrate your freedom to read?

6 comments:

  1. Great post. Reading is power as well as freedom. I do not know what I would do if that right was taken away.

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    1. Absolutely! And we all have to stick together and make sure that we never give up that power.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. One of my all time favorites - -Huckleberry Finn.

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    1. I'm ashamed to say that's one that I actually haven't read yet. But as I was looking over some of the "frequently challenged" lists on the ALA web site I added several of them to my "to read" list, and that one is definitely on it. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  3. What a great idea to read a banned or challenged book this week! One of my favorites on the list is Forever,by Judy Blume. I celebrate my freedom to read every day! You have me thinking of adding a few banned books into my book challenge going on now.

    Thank you for this post!

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    1. I actually thought of you wile I was writing this post - I had a feeling you'd appreciate it. :)

      I read a lot of Judy Blume when I was younger, but I don't specifically remember Forever. I'm going to have to go look it up. (She has quite a few on the challenged lists. Obviously she's doing something right.)

      Thanks for reading! See what I did there? Can't pass up an opportunity for a double meaning. ;)

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