Banned Books Week 2016

Banned Books Week is now! I will be reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding for my official banned book. I’ll also be taking part in a banned books photo challenge over on my Tumblr which I will also post on my Instagram

September 25th-October 1st is Banned Books Week. I’d like to share a chunk of a paper I wrote on the subject of censorship some years ago. This is an issue close to my heart.

(I’d also like to preamble this with: I long for the day I write something important enough to be banned. I’ll know I’ve made it when my work is challenged. That’s an okay goal to have, right?)

Any who, here are my thoughts:

Say No to censorship and banned books for banned books week

The Banning of books is a controversial issue that’s been debated and protested for decades, if not longer. Books are banned for many reasons. Some of the criteria almost makes sense (sexual acts, violence). Other reasons are laughable (children questioning authority, too depressing, abundance of cartoons). Authors of these works are trying to tell a truth, or express an idea. Writers are not writing books with the intention of being banned. They’re trying to help people, and some of these people are children. Your children. The banning of these “controversial” novels isn’t helping anyone. Children are being cut off from reading about, what some may call, uncomfortable situations; this is only going to make it more difficult for them to deal with these situations in real life. It is often helpful for children to read about these issues, in an environment where they can ask questions (to parents or teachers). If not allowed to learn about things like sex or mental illness in a safe environment, children may be left learning about these subjects from friends or popular media. Can you imagine? It also seems that groups banning books forget kids aren’t without common sense. Children quite often know what’s “real” and “not real”. Give your kid some credit! And give them the opportunity to learn, grow, and explore their world and new ideas. They can find help in these books. Let them.

This form of censorship isn’t an archaic practice. Schools and communities are still trying to infringe upon the liberties of free speech. They’re playing with the rights of children. It’s almost sickening. They seem to be having trouble coming up with valid reasons, too. Some book banning criteria includes:

  • children questioning authority (you will think what we think, no matter how wrong we are)
  • characters who speak in non-standard English (heaven forbid you have an accent.)
  • Non-Christian culture (no Jewish literature for you)
  • witchcraft of supernatural (magic isn’t real, but our kids might think it is!)
  • abundance of cartoons (never a good idea to help children better understand a concept with pictures)
  • homosexual subject matter (you have two dads, so you’re not allowed to be a role model)
  • negative statements about the United States government (remember slavery?)
  • non-traditional family units (because every family is a nuclear family)
  • promotion of self understanding (don’t you dare think for yourself!)

That’s a minuscule glimpse of the list of “reasons” books are censored.

To be fair… there are some reasons to consider keeping some books out of elementary schools, or make them only available to older readers. I’ll agree that some content need not be read by second graders. I’m not a complete radical. But, I stand by my argument that ideas should never, I repeat never, be kept from people. How are we to grow as a society and culture if we shelter our future thinkers from an idea that could plant a seed of pure brilliance? We’re cheating ourselves and our children if we allow thoughts to be put through an approval system. Just because you don’t agree with an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. This is supposed to be the free world! This is not a land of certain people’s opinion. This is a country of anyone’s opinion who is willing to speak. Stop shushing the people brave enough to change the world.

Books are not bad guys. Taking them away won’t help your children deal with the scary world in which we live. Our kids need books, even the questionable ones. The reasons for banning books are not reasons at all. They’re agendas. Please, I beg of society, let books help them. There’s no need for empty libraries. Challenging these books is hurting our little ones, and us. It’s not fair to take away the tools to help them grow and learn. You’re leaving them defenseless.

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