Banned Books Week: September 25th – October 2nd (Mini-Rant)

(Information obtained from the ALA website.)

“Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.”

My Feelings on BBW:

I’ve been celebrating (yes, celebrating) Banned Book Weeks since sixth or seventh grade. By celebrating, I mean reading as many of the books on the list as I possibly can during the week. Some of my all-time favorite books are on the banned list year after year. I read many of them multiple times throughout the year. I don’t understand censorship of literature like this. I just don’t. I don’t agree with it and I never will. So much is learned from literature. SO MUCH. And yet, our society is constantly trying to limit our access to it.

I grew up in a small Republican town of 1,300 in Wisconsin. I spent grades 1-8 in a parochial school and went to church every Sunday (and still do). My high school boasted just over five hundred kids while I was there.

Never, not once, was I told I couldn’t read a certain. Never once was I lectured about the evils of “A Wrinkle in Time” when I read it with the rest of my fourth grade class. Nothing was said when I read “The Catcher in the Rye” in eighth grade or twice more in high school. William S. Burroughs, despite his homosexuality, was handed out gladly in my high school English classes. I read “Junky” in the hallways before and after school and nobody uttered a word. “Lord of the Flies” is tied with “To Kill a Mockingbird” for my favorite book of all time and that will never change.

But now? Now children are kept from reading these books because their parents (and society in general, it seems) deem them unfit for mental consumption. Sheltering children in school will only lead to a sheltered life as adults. Knowledge comes from reading. Never once did I want to overthrow government or turn savage when I read “Lord of the Flies.” I never wondered about the supposed “witchcraft” while I was reading “A Wrinkle in Time,” and I certainly never thought William S. Burroughs would turn me into a homosexual.

I just don’t understand.
What is wrong with society today?

Do me a favor. Click on the “I Read Banned Books” badge over on the sidebar and take a look at the list of currently challenged books. Read a few. And last but not least, laugh at the idiocy of those trying to ban literature. I’ll be doing it with you.