For those of you living under a rock, last week (September 21 – 27) was known as Banned Books Week. Writers joined alongside librarians and publishers to fight censorship. BBW is the annual event which celebrates the freedom to read. And is there any better cause for a getting a book lover to do her happy dance on that score? Not surprisingly, I vote with writers and self-expression every time.
But it occurred to me here at Romance, Suspense, & Chocolate that maybe I should remind all readers that banning books didn’t just happen in Nazi Germany. All across our own country from California to New York, famous authors have found themselves on the outs with censors. Noteworthy to remember over the years that such literary classics as The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, (which had copies actually burned by an Illinois public library in 1939 for its vulgar language) Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Animal Farm by George Orwell, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have, at one time, been found on the inappropriate to-read list.
It didn’t just happen in the “old days” either. In 2010 And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, an illustrated true story about two male penguins adopting an abandoned egg, was challenged by a school district in Kansas City, Missouri. The accused book was charged with trying to indoctrinate kids into the homosexual culture. And need I mention that Hunger Games was challenged by a New Hampshire school board for being too violent and Twilight had its own problems for being too racy.
Now might be a good time to add that I’m not here to tell you what you as a parent should let your kids read. That’s up to you to judge what books are appropriate for your children. But remember, banning books so no one gets to read them is hardly a solution.
Ask a group of writers why books often end up as targets, and you’ll get a variety of answers. Usually the most popular theory isn’t difficult to figure out. The writer in question, during their creative process, simply crossed a line, went too far, in one way or another that someone or many someones found offensive. They either touched on taboo subject material no one should dare address, added sex scenes to their plotlines that were deemed far too obscene, or used such foul language that the poor reader turned several shades of blue right there in his own living room.
Throughout history, many have tried to keep certain books off bookshelves and out of your hands. In order to fully appreciate your right to read, try to consider for a moment what it would be like if the powers that be, whoever they are, in whatever state they are, banned your favorite book from the general public.
So here at Romance, Suspense & Chocolate I’d like to encourage you to go out and pick up a banned book to celebrate. Just for kicks go retro. Read a copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, (not my favorite book by the way) but I know what I’ll be reading, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
Happy, happy reading to all no matter what you read… Just read!!!
Source info from the American Library Association