I follow a lot of bookstagrammers and have been reminded several times this week that it’s Banned Books Week.
As I looked over the list of banned classics and the lists of the top ten books banned every year since ’01, I realized that I’ve read a lot of them. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
For instance, The Bible was banned for “religious content.” To Kill a Mockingbird was banned for “racial slurs and profanity.” Lord of the Rings (and other Tolkien novels) were banned as “satanic.” The Grapes of Wrath was banned for “sexual content and profanity.” (Find all these reasons and more here.)
I didn’t write a blog post about Banned Books Week last year, but I thought about it. And now, since I’ve read so many more classics (seriously, this American Lit course is kind of ridiculous), I have many more thoughts about it.
(Hence the blog post.)
One of the things I’ve thought about books is that while there are valid reasons to ban books from libraries – especially school libraries – it’s ultimately just up to the reader. There’s nothing stopping a reader from simply going to the bookstore or getting a book online that wasn’t available at their library. Of course, it’s less likely they’ll spend money on it rather than just find a library that has it, but there’s very little point to keeping a book out of a high school library. (Elementary and middle schools are a completely different story, however.)
However, the main reason is that people shouldn’t tell other people what not to read. I understand parents not allowing their children to read something, but you can’t just mass-ban something just because you don’t agree with it.
Many of these books were banned for good reason, and I understand putting warning stickers on them or something (like the “Explicit” stickers on albums)… but banning them? What about all the good in them?
To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t just racial surs – it’s about friendship and family and – HELLO – the opposite of racism.
Lord of the Rings isn’t just – well, first of all, it isn’t even satanic, okay? And it’s about love and friendship and courage and defying the odds and it’s just all-around amazing.
The Hunger Games is about standing up for what’s right and fighting for what you believe in.
Some of my favorite books of all time have language and/or inappropriate scenes in them. I recommend Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to lots of friends because I connected so much to it, as I do with The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly. Both have language (although the former has significantly more than the latter), but I still recommend them. Why? Because they’re good.
Bottom line, books shouldn’t be banned. Decide what you want to read for yourself. If you don’t like language, don’t read something that has language – simple as that. I’ve “ClearPlay’d” books before for friends (and for myself) and while I kind of dislike it because you’re defacing a book (!!!!!!), it does get rid of the language.
Have you ever read a *gasp* banned book? If so, which one? Do you think they should be banned?