Hello! Welcome to Banned Books Week! This special week of the year is near to my and Malissa's heart. Not only because we are avid and voracious readers, but because we are librarians, mothers. We need to celebrate the freedom to read, not only this week, but every day of the year. While I think it's important for parents to know what their children are reading and to possibly set limits (if they want to, as parents), I think it's equally important for society as a whole to not monitor what the public at large is reading. While one parent may not want their child to read, say, Harry Potter, I can guarantee you I will be elated when my child shows interest in reading it. As parents, it's our job to raise our children as we see fit, but it's not okay for other people to tell me what my child can and cannot read. I'm not okay with that - as a mother or a librarian.
I'm taking a page out of Malissa's book and decided to read a banned book from the list of Frequently Challenged/Banned Books. I decided to go with The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I've never read it but always wanted to. And because I have the FREEDOM to, I'm going to do it. :)
Let's all take a moment and be grateful - grateful for the right to choose what we read, grateful for the freedom we are allowed.
So …. IT’S BANNED BOOKS WEEK!!! I, personally, love Banned Books Week. And I know I’m an unusually book nerdy person. At the very least above average in the book nerdiness department. And a librarian on top of that. But still I found myself wondering, as I made my list of possible Banned Books Week reading selections for this year (yeah, I do that …), just why I like it so much. Maybe it’s because I hate being told what to do. I’m incredibly stubborn and hard-headed for some reason +shrug+ and will often do things (within reason) just because I’m told I can’t. And the challenging and removing of books in libraries, especially public libraries, smacks of someone else telling me what I can and can’t/should and shouldn’t do. A slight aside, the thing I loved about the whole 50 Shades phenomenon wasn’t the book itself (I never actually got around to reading it) but the fact that it stretched our comfort levels and preconceived notions of what we should be reading and shelving in the library. The answer being whatever our patrons need and want us to be shelving whether everyone likes or enjoys or agrees with it or not. Or maybe I love Banned Books Week because so many personal favorites find themselves on those the frequently banned and challenged lists. Books that I’ve loved that I think others deserve a chance to love too. Books from Harry Potter to To Kill a Mockingbird that I think have the potential to change the world in one way or another. But I don’t think even that’s the whole story. Last year as I put up a poster from a Banned Books Week past at my “new” library I was struck by its wording. It wasn’t an “I’m with the banned” poster or "read freely" or any of the cool and clever slogans I’ve seen more recently, but simply said “celebrate your freedom to read” and featured and American flag motif. And it occurred to me that maybe that’s a large part of what Banned Books Week is about. Not just making people aware that challenges to books in libraries and schools happen (though that’s a worthy cause) but also making us aware and thankful for the fact that a book hasn’t been truly banned (to my knowledge) in this country since Ulysses by James Joyce in the 1920s. We have the right in this country to read what we like. Inspirational, controversial, literary, trashy, deep, fluffy, hyped, unknown and any other descriptors we can think of (those should probably all be in quotes, but that seemed like a lot of work). How amazing is that? I’ll answer for you. Pretty amazing! So let’s be grateful. Go grab a frequently banned or challenged book (you can find one here: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/
bannedbooksweek) this week and see what it’s
about. Stretch yourself. Be a rebel. Maybe just because you can be ;)
My Banned Books Week 2013 selection: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
What about you? Will you be celebrating Banned Books Week with us?