Banned Book Week starts tomorrow, September 22, and I would like to personally encourage you to find your most favorite banned book and read it again. What? You don’t think any books you like would be on the banned book list? Think again. I can’t count up all the books I love that have been on this list at one time or another, from the obvious (Lady Chatterley’s Lover) to the ridiculous (the entire Harry Potter series) and all sorts of great books in between.
Book banners and their ilk would like us to think they’re protecting us and our children from dangerous or indecent ideas by censoring out what they don’t like or don’t agree with, but curtailing our ability to read curtails our ability to know, which, in turn, curtails our ability to form our own opinions based on that knowledge. Once you chip away at this most basic freedom, everything else is on the table as far as I’m concerned. We can never become complacent or complicit.
And if you don’t think it’s still happening, think again. You can click HERE to see a list of the most frequently challenged books of 2012. Captain Underpants tops that list. Sadly, I’m not kidding.
My 13-year-old is reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl as her individual selection in her school’s larger celebration of Banned Books Week, and I’m so happy and proud to know that the local middle school is working hard to make sure our kids understand and cherish their right to read.
For homework, Olivia had to write a short answer about this quote: “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” Amen to that. When I asked what she thought that meant, she said that she thought trying to silence someone would just make them more determined to stick up for what they believe in. Gotta love that kid.
If you want to learn more about Banned Books Week, click HERE for the website in support of this annual celebration. And even if you don’t have time to re-read a favorite banned book, take the time to see just how many of your favorites are on there. It will make you realize — or remember — why it’s important to refocus our attention on this subject once a year.
My top hits on the banned list are Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Lady Chatterley (and the many other D.H. Lawrence books I own and love), Harry Potter, pretty much anything by Ernest Hemingway (I’ve also got a whole shelf of him), The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lolita, Where the Wild Things Are, and Charlotte’s Web. Let me repeat those last two: Where the Wild Things Are and Charlotte’s Web. Sigh. I think that’s all I need to say, isn’t it?
Go. Read. Be free.