Banned Book WeekMonday, September 22, 2014
Have you ever read any of these books?
If you have then you've read (at least) one of the top 10 most challenged books for young adults last year.
This week, September 21 - 27, is Banned Book Week where libraries, bookstores, schools, and the American Library Association (ALA) promote and educate people on the harm of censorship.
Some of the most common reasons for censoring books have to do with "sexually explicit" content, "offensive language," and "homosexuality".
Censoring books does not keep children or teens from learning these things. I'm pretty sure they already talk about all these things on a daily basis. But the problem does come when perhaps they read something a bit mature and are not given an outlet for discussing the situations within.
Reading has been shown to improve empathy. It also teaches readers (children and adults) how other people live their life, make their decisions, and solve their problems enabling readers to delve into other worlds without having to actually live them.
This means that reading a book like Go Ask Alice or Tweak will not automatically make you a drug addict. They do however provide a glimpse into the lives of those who may be portrayed within the book. Though fiction, the stories you read can be as real if not more so than any PSA out there.
“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
― Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
I've been a reader my entire life and I would hate to think that I could have missed out on some great books simply because someone else thought I was not mature enough to handle it.
The problem with censoring books is that it is our right to read whatever we want to read. We are able to decide for ourselves which books we feel good enough to read.
You may argue that in schools censoring can be a good thing. But even then, when it comes to completely banning a book - you're going the wrong way about it.
Completely disregarding a topic does not mean that the problems go away. Sometimes, things need to be said in certain terms to better get the idea across. Sometimes people have sex (gasp) and sometimes people have gay sex (double gasp). By challenging these ideas and topics, we are actually teaching our children that they are somehow taboo. We are telling them that they are bad and therefore shouldn't be talked about in a mature, inquisitive, educational manner.
In The Perks of Being A Wallflower themes of sexual abuse are told within. But did you know that according to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have been sexually abused in some way before their 18th birthday? That is definitely not a small percentage! That means that these things happen and sometimes in order for others to come forward they have to find someone else who's been in the same situation. Sometimes that person doesn't have to be real for the victim to find strength.
Instead of being afraid that our children will go about re-enacting the things they see in books, we should be actively engaged with them about their reading. We should encourage them to read for fun as well for education.
Banning books should not be the answer to any question. I mean, if you want some proof look no further than...
If you want to support the ALA and would like to donate 10$ to their endeavour you may do so HERE.
If you'd like to see the top ten most frequently challenged books from 2001 - 2013 you may do so on the ALA website HERE.
If you'd like to sport an I READ BANNED BOOKS banner on your Twitter or Facebook pages visit the Banned Book Week's website HERE.
And lastly, tell me what banned books you've read or would love to read in the future.