First of all, the fact that there is a “Banned Books Week” is ridiculous. Although it’s meant to be “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read” it is almost contradictory because I can’t believe that in 2014 a banned books list still exists. Are you kidding me?! Have you seen some of the books on this list?
These are just a few examples and it might as well be called the “Classic And Influential Books You Must Read” list:
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Lord of the Flies – William Golding
1984 – George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
Back to the description of this allegedly celebratory week. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week is supposed to highlight the value of free and open access to information. Here’s my favorite part of the description: “Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community” – haha yeah right! Why are we teaching today’s children about Banned Books that aren’t even really banned since you can buy them at any store and online. Yes, I understand that commemorating stupid choices we have made in the past is meant to teach the next generation how to avoid repeating those mistakes, but there are still people out there “challenging” books!
In 2013 a few examples of challenged books include:
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
And the reasons for most of these so-called challenges? “Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.” Wow, why not just put a Parental Advisory sticker on the books and call it a day? That’s what we used to do in record stores and it seemed to work just fine. Or maybe put a “Rated R” stamp on it? You don’t see anyone banning music or movies – so why books? Get a grip!
A few more facts before I finish my rant: Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013.
If I ever have children I guarantee you that more than a few of the banned titles will be on his or her reading list. I can’t imagine not giving kids Hemingway, London, Salinger, Fitzgerald, etc. That’s some seriously epic literature they would be missing out on, not to mention some of the greatest stories told.
So how about we ban Banned Books Week and just read what we want. #sorryimnotsorry