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.