Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice
It's that time of year, again, when we celebrate our freedom to read and our freedom to express ourselves. The freedom to read what WE would like to read. The freedom to write what we'd like to write.
It still amazes me that books are still being challenged in the 21st century. Parents have the right to monitor and guide what their child reads, but that right shouldn't extend to another child whose parents don't object to the reading material. If every book that has been challenged or banned were not available any longer we would not have books such as Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlottes Webb and even a 1965 Dictionary!
I was a voracious reader when I was growing up. I was never limited to what I could read. I learned from these books. I did not learn hatred; I learned tolerance, acceptance, empathy. I learned about history. If I had questions, I asked my parents or a teacher. Reading opens the mind; Banning books takes away that opportunity. Fantasy did not turn me towards "the dark side", and sex in books did not make me turn into a sex fiend. In fact, reading Sherlock Holmes didn't even make me take up smoking a pipe. I love that parents are involved with what their children are reading! Just don't police what my child can read, or even what I can read.
Banning of books happens in schools, libraries and places that books are available. Protect your rights and the rights of others! Read a banned book this week! We'll be talking about Banned Books this week on Chick with Books, so stop by and see what books are highlighted during the week.
*Curious as to what books have been banned or challenged recently? Here is the 2012 - 2013 list of books challenged or banned as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.