Imagine walking into your favorite bookstore or library and finding certain titles- Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Judy Blume’s “Forever”, J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, just to name a few- missing from the shelves not because of budget cuts or any financial reasons but because they were banned.
Scary thought, right?
In these modern times we live in, you wouldn’t think literary censorship still occurs. But it does. Only recently in Stockton, Missouri, Sherman Alexie’s Young Adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian” was removed from schools citing objectionable language and sexual content. In Texas, Ellen Hopkins was uninvited from the Teen Lit Festival because her novels tackled topics that were deemed age inappropriate.
Due to language, violence, sex, the topic itself, or even just a different viewpoint, lots of people will find something unacceptable in many books. That’s fine. Unfortunately, there are also people that band together to demand these types of books be banned from schools, libraries and bookstores. That’s not fine. They may have the best intentions but if their challenges result in actual banning, others are denied the opportunity of reading the books and forming their own opinions.
Banned Books Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of this issue and to make sure censorship doesn’t occur. It’s a constant battle and not always successful. As readers, we have to do our part. Back in Texas, with the whole Ellen Hopkins controversy, several authors who were slated to appear at the Teen Lit Festival withdrew to show support. The event has since been cancelled.
BannedBooksWeek.org is a great resource to find more information in regards to its history and purpose, actions on what’s being done to combat literary censorship, and lists of banned and challenged books.
Share your thoughts with us on your favorite banned books and celebrate your freedom to read!