National Banned Book Week ~ Celebrate Reading Freedom!

by GfG on October 1, 2012 · 5 comments

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This week is National Banned Book week.  Did you know that?  I’m really into staying on top of  issues like that, so I do.  Or it’s because our local library had a poster.  You decide.

It’s funny, my being a conservative Christian, people might think I would love the idea of banned books, but I don’t.

I do believe there are terrible books out there, both in content and form, that deserve never to be printed or read, but I am not a fan of the practice of banning.

I am a fan of the rights of parents to choose to not allow their child to read a book, whether it is one that a school board has chosen or one simply available at a library.  We are still the parents and the government should not have the say in what my child MUST read, just as the government has no right to say what my child SHOULDN’T read.  {Of course, I’m a homeschooler, so it’s pretty obvious I don’t want the government picking my kids’ academics.}

Still, countries often ban books.  America has not been exempt from this.  Today, countries like Iran, Iraq, and dozens more are big fans of banning my favorite: the Bible.

Just because I will be stapling together two pages of  The Help that I find completely inappropriate for my thirteen and fifteen year olds (as well as myself… actually, the way the author handled the strange man that showed up was completely unnecessary for the story, IMHO), doesn’t mean that I think banning or censoring books in general is what a government should do.

There is a difference between my censoring books for my children, until they are old enough to handle the content, and banning or censoring books from a  community or nation as a whole or from a library and/or syllabus.  Seriously.

I’m actually a bit stunned with people make a stink about parents challenging the appropriateness of a book that is on the syllabus for the year or even on the shelf in the kids’ sections.  Shouldn’t school/library boards be happy that parents care what their kids are reading?  Do people really think there should never be discerning discussion for what children read?

Honestly, I think there is a big difference between banning a book and a school deciding that a book should not be on their reading list or in their library.  To equate a school deciding a work should never be on their list of required reading with China forbidding the possession/sales of a book is ludicrous to me.  If one were to take that stance, then any book goes for kids.  Silliness.  We have a responsibility as adults to be discerning for our children, then let them decide for themselves when they are adults.

I believe adults should make their own decisions on books they want to read, not government, political parties or religious groups.

I want my children to have the right to read those two pages when they are adults, if they really want to do so.  I want my children to have the right to choose for themselves the books they will read.  I want all people to have access to the Bible.

So… in celebration of Banned Book Week/Freedom to Read Week… I will read a couple of banned books (either currently banned or previously banned).  We have a few previously banned books on our school list this year (and did last year to0) – Uncle Tom’s CabinAll Quiet on the Western Front and Animal Farm.

I might even have the older kids read something previously banned in America.  Maybe Diary of Anne Frank or Call of the Wild.

I might even be crazy and let my younger kids also read something that was previously banned.  Oh, something like Green Eggs and Ham or Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

We’ll all read the Bible and be especially grateful for the freedom to read books of any kind and especially for the freedom to read the only book whose author is present every time you read it.

Be grateful and celebrate your freedom to read!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary October 1, 2012 at 6:58 am

I’m so glad I read your post today — we read “The Witches” earlier this year by Roald Dahl. It is on many banned book lists, but we thoroughly enjoyed the book — I am so glad we live in a society where we are free to read what we please!

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susie October 1, 2012 at 7:26 am

do you have a list of books that are banned-or where can one find that?

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GfG October 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

Susie,
I found a lot when I googled, but it was difficult to find a current list. Try the ALA site for Banned Book Week. I haven’t found a current list.

I want to say, though I voiced it in the post, that I disagree with the ALA that a school banning a book from its curriculum is the equivilant of banning in general. I don’t believe it’s a freedom of speech issue when adults are making decisions for what school kids MUST read in the curriculum. They could still read the book, on their own, with their parents, if they wanted, so their is no real restriction.

Had to get that off my chest. ;)

If you find a current list, please share it.

THANKS!

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Amy Bearce October 1, 2012 at 10:54 pm

The ALA is a great source and has a page for Banned Book Week that has links to lists of banned books. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek Here is a list of the top 100 banned books from 2000-2009: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedbydecade/2000_2009 . There are others out there. I did a paper for grad school on censorship vs. selection in school libraries, GfG. You might find it interesting, as far as what the courts have decided over the years. :) Essentially, they have ruled that it’s okay to keep a book out of the school library if its truly not age-appropriate (like putting a book full of sex and violence in an elementary school library), but not just because some people disagree with the ideas presented in it (like And Tango Makes Three, which is a picture book about two male penguins raising a baby, or Harry Potter books). Oh, and one last link– you can use this one to go look by year and see the most frequently challenged books. http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged
Challenged does not equal banned, but I like to read those, too, because they often are the same books with different fates in different districts. Also, books that are required reading are more rigorously examined, I’d say, compared to books just available for check out, since no one is asking them to read it for an assignment. It’s all fascinating to me. The most recent banned book I’ve read is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Hated it, but wouldn’t ban it. But I also wouldn’t use it as a class assignment, in part because I taught in a reading workshop format with self-selected books, but also because I just really disliked the whole style and tone of it. Best frequently challenged book that I’ve read lately (upper YA) is The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. He’s my new favorite author and most of his books end up on this list.

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Danielle @Mommy and Me Book Club October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Beautifully expressed just as I wish I had said it! Thank you! I am sharing on my wall.

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