Banned Books Week 2011: Name Your Poison

Banned Books Week, an observation held each year by the American Library Association, starts today and lasts through October 1, the end of this week, to raise awareness of books that are currently or have been banned from schools, libraries, and more simply because they were controversial.

Some books that have been banned include J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, perhaps most famously; classic novels such as J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; and children’s stories such as Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Dav Pikley’s Captain Underpants series.

These books have been challenged by parents and community members for many reasons, from offenses to religious beliefs to the idea that children and teens shouldn’t be exposed to the ideas inside the books.

Are these reasons appropriate?  I say no.

Books exist to help people expand their horizons past what they normally experience, and by banning books from children and teens, these horizons are held in stasis.

This year for Banned Books Week, please take some time to visit the ALA’s page on Banned Books.  Pick one out of the list – maybe one that’s already in your library – and read it, share it, and talk about it with your friends and family members.  If you have children, read one of the books on the list to them and talk to them about it.

Closing books closes out ideas.  Keep ideas alive this year by opening a book and giving it the good old once-over.

What Banned Book are you reading this week?  I’ll be reading Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel A Handmaid’s Tale.

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7 thoughts on “Banned Books Week 2011: Name Your Poison

    • Many people find it offensive to their religious beliefs – several denominations of Protestant Christians feel witchcraft in any form is sacrilegious. It’s usually banned for religious reasons rather than because of violence or “explicit” sexual content, which is why many books are banned.

      • To me, it’s a matter of people not teaching their children that there’s a difference between fantasy/fiction and reality. Some parents don’t teach their kids that fiction isn’t real, so when the kid copies something from a TV show or a book, they blame the book or show – even though in reality it’s their own fault for not teaching their child the difference or for simply not monitoring what their kids are reading. My mom used to let me read books above my age level, but always told me to ask her if I was confused or explained things like “this isn’t something we do because it’s bad” and things like that.

        Although I understood what fiction was from (apparently) a very early age…

    • Well, I think that would help. Another thing I read on one site is that people often just read the description of a book and want to ban it. They don’t even read it first. I mean, isn’t it a better idea to read something first and THEN decide it’s inappropriate? I think Harry Potter is much less inappropriate for teenagers than some other books. Not that little kids should read the later books – they’re a little mature – but maturity and “inappropriateness” are different things.

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