Welcome back, ManaFriends! This week, September 27 to October 3, is Banned Books Week. What is Banned Books Week? It is a week celebrating the freedom to read.
Throughout the years, people have tried (and in many cases succeeded) banning books, especially children’s books, for different reasons: violence, profanity, teaching children to misbehave or disrespect authority, etc. Schools and libraries around the country have succeeded in banning books such as The Giving Tree, Winnie the Pooh, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlotte’s Web, Alice in Wonderland, and Where the Wild Things Are for these reasons and more.
So what’s the big deal? Why do we have an entire week devoted to talking about banned books?
The issue is censorship. Banned Books Week is about giving people the choice to read a book—or not. If someone finds the content of James and the Giant Peach to be questionable, they can choose not to read it. But part of the joy of reading is reading books that challenge you, books that push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to think about the world. And it’s about you making that choice, rather than someone making it for you. After all, some of the most frequently challenged books are ones that have become cornerstones of American literature: The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Beloved—the list goes on and on.
It’s not just an issue of years past, either. The most challenged books of 2014 included The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, And Tango Makes Three, The Bluest Eye, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Luckily, we have Banned Books Week to keep the conversation going about how and why people try to ban these books.
If you’d like to learn more about Banned Books Week, visit the official Banned Books Week website. You can also see the ALA’s lists of the most frequently challenged books throughout the years. This week, pick up a banned book or two and celebrate your freedom to read!