Banned Book Week

Monday, 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. 

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  1. I agree, I don't censoring books is the answer. I think parents should be reading what their kids are reading as well so they can decide whether they want their child to read the book or not. Now if there was something that was entirely inappropriate on all levels then I can see why it may be placed somewhere not everyone can access it but I don't think censorship is the answer.

  2. I don't like the idea of banning. I DO think it's interesting that we rate movies, yet don't have some sort of "rating" on books. I know my parents had NO idea of the content of some books I read as a youth. I think parents should be reading what their kids are reading and then that opens the doors for discussion and keeps subjects from being "taboo." I do think a content warning might help parents know what they are getting into just at a glance. We do it with movies, why not books? I don't think it should make books harder to buy or anything else, but just give a sort of heads-up to what might be inside.

  3. I'm happy to say that I read banned book ;)
    I agree that it is difficult to know what books are appropriate for my kids to read. But then it encourages me to read more books so I know what to recommend to them. (Or find a trusty librarian!)

  4. Librarians are great tools! It's always great to use them. Even if they've never read the book themselves that more than likely know someone who has or have access to find out what an appropriate age-range would be for the book.

  5. totally loved this post! and I am a proud reader of banned books! I agree with you whole heartedly about how banning a book doesn't stop anyone from reading it or if they ban a book because of its contents that those issues or whatnot just disappear. I believe that better educating our youth on things like sex or whatever the case will be will help them make more informed decisions that would be better than making decisions because of peer pressure or because no one wants to talk about it.

  6. Thanks! I understand that sometimes it can be a hard and awkward conversation but it really is better for everyone.