“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” ─Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959
From board books to YA books, I love children’s books. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to go to a library and find that one special book I’m dying to read – unless it’s been pulled from the shelf because someone has deemed it inappropriate. So when Banned Books Week comes along, I’m on the band wagon to stop that from happening!
According the American Library Association there are four reasons people challenge books: Family Values, Religion, Political Views, and Minority Rights. We are all guaranteed the freedom to express ourselves by rights of the First Amendment. If someone doesn’t like a book for a certain reason, that’s fine, but, please, don’t push your views on others. Everyone has the right to make their own decisions.
An author puts heart and soul into a book. Words are chosen carefully. The author sees something special in the subject matter, and that’s why it’s written. There may be some people who see the subject matter and word choice as inappropriate, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Consider this. Books that are unsettling are ripe for teachable moments. If you don’t agree with the content, use these books to teach tolerance, to teach good choices, to teach acceptable behavior, and to inform children about different lifestyles. Never hide the truth.
Here are just a few reasons some books have been banned – racial slurs, immoral behavior, profanity, sexuality, alcohol use, and witchcraft. For some people, these appear to be good reasons to challenge a book or ban a book, but the reasons listed below boggle my mind.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: Descriptions of injuries are to vivid (Ah, to be able to do that as a writer.)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: Deceit and back talk (Don’t all kids do that at some time or another?)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig: Illustrations shows police as pigs (So?)
Just So Stories: “The Elephant’s Child:” Too violent (Smack me! This is a great read-aloud story. Kids love it!)
Little Red riding Hood retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman: Cover illustration shows wine in Red’s basket (I’ll take a sip!)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Bad behavior and nightmares (Isn’t that a part of growing up?)
Of course, there are many more books that have been challenged or banned for reasons I consider inane. This is Banned Books Week. Celebrate the freedom to read the books of your choice.
“Every burned book or house enlightens the world; every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson