Celebrate Banned Book Weed - Read a Banned Book.
Welcome to my annual rant on censorship. Banned Book week is celebrated the last full week of September each year. Founded in 1982 by First Amendment Activist, Judith Krug, it's goal is to highlight how important our freedom of speech and freedom of the press is to every American under the First Amendment. It's now sponsored by the American Library Association and the Center for Books in the Library of Congress.
Conservative and religious groups voice their strong opinions, but the number one group(s) who challenge books are parents and School Board members. Each year, PABBIS (Parents Against Bad Books in School) releases a list of books that don't meet with their approval. The reasons books are banned aren’t shocking: The top five are sex, profanity, racism, the occult and homosexuality, including books with trans-gender characters.
Are you thinking, "It's 2017, we don't ban books anymore." Well, you're wrong. While the government may not be forbidding certain books, many school districts are. In 2016 there were 323 complaints to school districts throughout the country. I know I'm broken record, but I strongly believe parents have the right to determine what they deem appropriate for their children to read, but not all children. The reason I say that is because if the challenge wins, the books are removed from the school library shelves or even worse, in some cases, off the public library shelves. Sorry, but the public library is a sacred institution to me, and everyone should be able to walk in, check out and read any book they'd like to. No permission needed from any parent, religious or conservative group!
The award for the most ironic banned book goes to Fahrenheit 451 (the degree at which books will burn and one of my favorites) - a book written about banning and burning books. It was challenged because in the book, The Bible is one of the books that banned/burned. But it gets better, because in reality, The Holy Bible has been challenged many times and was one of the top ten book challenged in 2016. Read article here.
To give you a sense of how many actual banned books there are, a Parthenon of banned books was built this summer on the site of Nazi book burnings in Germany. 100,000 books were used. 100,000!! You can read the full article here. It's not long and I recommend it.
How awesome is that??
Each year the groups and librarians that sponsor #BannedBooksWeek ask readers to read a banned book. You might be surprised the number of classics that are on the full list, not just the top ten of each year. Last year I read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I'd seen the movie and read excerpts. Mr. Wilde came from a different era and the writing reflects that, but wow, it was a great read. I urge everyone to look over the list and pick a book that you've never read. You might be pleasantly surprised.
"Always be kinder than necessary." J.M Barry