Words Have Power: Celebrate Banned Books Week
During the last week of September, the entire book community comes together, in support of the freedom to seek and express ideas-even those that some would consider unorthodox or unpopular, or perhaps especially those ideas. Typically a book is challenged first, in an attempt to have it banned from schools, libraries and stores. There are many reasons why books are challenged, and they vary depending on the year and decade your looking at. For example, the top 10 list of challenged books of 2016, are books that contain LGBT characters, sexually explicit content, and offensive language. Historically, books have been banned or challenged for not only the previous mentioned topics, but also for the following topics: occult, political viewpoints, religious viewpoints and inappropriate content for intended age range. So, who exactly challenges or bans a particular book? Well, it ranges from a single person, such as a parent or politician to groups, like student groups or clergy to institutions such as theaters, universities and newspapers. Why do they want to ban a book? Again there are a host of reasons, from honestly trying to protect children from what they feel is inappropriate content, furthering their own agendas or simply because it challenges their way of thinking. It is mostly the efforts of librarians, teachers, students and other concerned citizens, that these books remain on the shelves.
Banning or attempting to ban books is a form of censorship, which is not just expressing a viewpoint. People and organizations challenge books in an attempt to remove them from public access, that means no one would have access to them. Not only is this a threat to the freedom of speech and choice. But it forces a particular viewpoint on everyone, which stagnant’s the growth and understanding of humanity. New ideas or the challenging of the status quo scares the people in charge, mainly because it brings about change. Not just in the way people think, act and feel, but it has the ability to shape the future or change our view of the past. It brings new inventions and innovations, challenging existing viewpoints is how we learned that the world was indeed round, how the polio vaccine was invented and has brought social justice to many. There are many more issues, and inventions that could be listed, but I think you get the point.
Did you know that many schools and churches tried to ban the Harry Potter books? As well as books by well loved children’s author Rolad Dahl? Mainly due to cries of witchcraft and devil worship, plus violence for the Harry Potter books and as for Rolad Dahl because witchcraft, perceived misogamy and poor life choices. Are these books pure entertainment? No, of course not there are a lot of ideas, personal thoughts, talks of mental illnesses and a host of other issues. They are written to entertain you, but to also make you think, feel and question. The question is, do you want to be told what you can and can not read, think or feel? Most certainly the answer is no, of course you don’t. Everyone wants to choose for themselves what to think and feel and how to act. Everyone should be able to do these things. That is the importance of books, it brings these ideals to the masses. That is why the Nazi’s tried so hard to eradicate books that they felt questioned their cause. A free thinking, questioning and open minded public threatens those in power, because it means you will question what they think is best. Let’s all strive to be free thinking and open minded. It makes for a more peaceful, loving and understanding society.
If you’d like more information, check out the links below. There are ways to get involved, as well as lists of challenged books for the past several decades. what are your thoughts on banning books?
projectcensored.org news that didn’t make the news
Artwork/banners/info-graphics courtesy of the American Library Association. All thoughts and opinions are my own.