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?