Hello and happy Banned Books Week! I think I’ve always taken for granted the freedom I was given to read from a young age. I can’t remember a time my parents, teachers, or really anyone told me I couldn’t read something. I think that’s why Banned Books Week is so important: it reminds us of the importance of reading and having access to books of all genres and written by authors of all backgrounds. Imagine if you had been more limited in what you were allowed to or had access to read when you were younger, you might not be here today, reading this. If I were more limited, I might not be here writing it. I mean, Harry Potter tops the list of most banned books, and it was one of the first to instill a love of reading in me and millions of other kids. Some of the most important, classic books of all time (looking at you, To Kill a Mockingbird) are repeatedly challenged every year, and new ones are added all the time.
I wrote earlier in the year about Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian being challenged by parents at an Idaho high school, and I learned from Leah’s post that Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park was also recently challenged. Favorites old and new are being called into question everyday, and it’s so important that we appreciate the books we have and love, and continue to promote literacy and access to reading at all levels.
To celebrate, Bannedbooksweek.org shared a timeline of banned books, and the reasons behind the challenges of each. I thought it was pretty interesting to see how the reasons progressed as time went on, but more interesting to note how many of them stayed the same over time. (Race, sexuality, language seem to always be a factor.)
It’s important to realize that the things most often challenged in these novels offer the biggest lessons, especially for people reading them at the high school (or middle school, etc) level. Through books like The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved, Harry Potter, and every other title on the list, children, teenagers, and adults alike learn not just a love of reading, but a growing sense of empathy, sympathy, compassion, and knowledge. Read ALL the banned books this week!
What are some of your favorite banned books??