Over the years, many different groups across a broad ideological spectrum have tried to ban books. According to the American Library Association, “Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.”
Parents are the group most often trying to censor books, and their top three reasons to censor a book are: it’s sexually explicit, contains offensive language, or is unsuited to any age group. While I recognize parents’ rights to decide what’s suitable reading for their own children, I oppose absolutely their attempts to decide for my child, or for her school, or for our community, what books we’re allowed to read.
Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3) celebrates our freedom to read and reminds us that censorship continues to jeopardize that freedom. As I noted in a previous post, the books in the Harry Potter series alone have been challenged, restricted, or banned an astounding 100 times. In 2014 and 2015, the list of books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned was a mixed bag that included:
- Classics (Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck);
- Young adult titles (National Book Award winner The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexei and Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post);
- Two Dr. Seuss books (Hop on Pop and If I Ran the Zoo); and
- Nonfiction (The Working Poor: Invisible in America by Pulitzer Prize winner David K. Shepler).
For more information about supporting Banned Book Week, see these ideas and the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. Or check out a banned book at your local public library. I'm thinking it's the right time to reread Fahrenheit 451.