As I was doing my daily perusal of the Sno-Isle Libraries website (that’s right, I visit the library website on a pretty regular basis…I like to see if/where they have books I want before actually visiting) I saw a link to this blog post.
I had no clue such a week existed, but I think it’s great. As a journalist, the First Amendment is practically my bread and butter. Banned Books Week protects this right and celebrates our freedom to read. Having never been personally affected by a book banning situation, I’ve got to say I count myself as lucky. As an avid reader, I’d say having people controlling my reading material would really make me angry.
And honestly, with the power of the Internet, I don’t see the point of it these days. Maybe back in 1982, when BBW was launched “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries” it would have been easy to take a title off the shelf and make it difficult for people to acquire said title. But now, you can just log onto Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders or some other website and order the book. Besides that, I think it’s a bit counterintuitive. Banning a book would just create more interest because people would become curious and want to see what the big deal was. Personally, I would seek out the book and read it just to spite the banners.
I understand with books geared toward a younger audience how parents would want to protect their children from certain themes. I just think it should be dealt with on a personal level. Just because you don’t want your kid reading a certain book doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow other people’s kids to read it. That decision should be up to the other parents.
All of this being said, I can’t fault people for speaking out about the books they want banned. Just as the First Amendment protects our right to say and in this case, read what we want, it also protects our rights to speak out against such reading material. I may not agree with what book banners have to say, but I respect their right to say it. I think it’s one of those agree to disagree situations.
Now, the BBW website has all sorts of suggestions for activities you can do in support of the week — all of which are great. But if you’re like me and don’t work at a school, library or bookstore, there’s not much you can do on a large scale.
So on a personal level, I challenge you to do what I plan on doing: Pick up a book that has been known to be banned. Also, go for a book you haven’t already read. For example, it’s no secret that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so I’m not just going to pick up one of those books and read it. I’m going to seek out a book I haven’t read.
Not sure what to read? The American Library Association has top ten lists of books that have been challenged each year for the past nine years. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding something that will spark your interest.
So, happy reading everyone!