Banned Books Week: September 30- October 6

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This week is Banned Books week, and it’s when we recognize books that have been or are currently being banned or challenged, whether it’s at schools or public libraries.  It’s important to realize how banning books can affect us, even if you don’t love reading.  Some might wonder why this matters so much, and it’s because everyone has the right to write and read what they will.  No one has the power to take away wonder and opportunity from another.  Book Lovers like myself will say that reading a good novel is like opening a door to the inspiring unknown that lies beyond.

Those for banning books, believe that the content in selected reading materials give immoral ideas and encourages the illicit, because of inappropriate subject matter, which are most commonly, sex, profanity, and racism.  Everyone will perceive literature as they want to.  If someone reads a book about a more risque matter, the reader will not necessarily attempt to become that character, nor will it necessarily give the reader immoral thoughts.  Maybe it will affect the reader in a negative way though, because words have that capacity, the power to evoke change, good and bad.  So, if you don’t like reading books that have risque contents, then don’t read them, but do not take away what others see as opportunity.  I have read books that are banned/ challenged and they have not affected me in a negative way.  Instead, I see books as an outlet to something beyond, to reality, even if they’re fantasy novels about dragons, because it’s not what the story is literally about, but the message, the feelings, the enjoyment of the text, and the story, which is perceived differently by each person.  I like reading stories that haven’t been written, stories of those that finally have a voice.  Many books that are profound and carry deeper subject matter, are often the ones that really inspire me to be a better person, to write; they give me a new perspective.

October is also Bully Awareness month.  In ways, banning books is similar to bullying, because literature, which can be a reflection of one’s soul and mind,  is being shunned.  They are being removed because a group of people don’t like them, and they’re encouraging others to do the same.  Isn’t this what happens between people too? 

Writing is another form of art, the freedom of expression.  It can be tranquil, disturbing to some, full of happiness, anger, passion, but above all, beautiful and moving, because it comes from within every person; it’s a piece of our soul, and art is vital to life because it reminds us that we are human, and there is goodness in the world.  It opens our eyes to the good that we are cannot see because we are trapped within our own mind, and the bad that needs a shining light.  Art is Freedom, whispered or shouted in a sparkling array of blooming forms.

Listed below are some banned books:

  • “Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
  • “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
  • “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  • “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
  • “Anne Frank:  The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank
  • “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • “My Mom’s Having a Baby” by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” by Chris Crutcher
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  • “Vegan, Virgin, Valentine” by Carolyn Mackler
  • “Twenty Boy Summer” by Sarah Ockler
  • AND MANY OTHERS!  TOO MANY!

A more thorough list can be found at:

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/sites/ala.org.advocacy/files/content/banned/bannedbooksweek/ ideasandresources/free_downloads/2011banned.pdf

I hope that you’ll look for and read some of these books, not just for the sake of reading something labeled “banned”, but because you believe in the freedom of expression and inspiration, or would like to explore a world outside this one.

-Maddie C., 16, Landa Teen Library Leadership Council member

References:

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/sites/ala.org.advocacy/files/content/banned/bannedbooksweek/
ideasandresources/free_downloads/2011banned.pdf

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/2679.Banned_Challenged_YA_Novels

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