Welcome to the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop, hosted by Bookhounds.
While this hop is a couple of weeks early (Banned Books Week officially begins Sept. 24) its theme is evergreen.
I firmly believe in everyone’s right to read whatever they want. As Ben Franklin said in the movie 1776, “there’s nothing so dangerous that it can’t be talked about”. Or, to carry the metaphor a bit further, can’t be read about.
This does also mean that people have the right not to read about whatever they don’t want to. But their rights end at my nose. Just because someone does not want to read a particular type of literature or a particular book, that does not mean that other people don’t have an equal right TO read that literature. Banning a book removes it from everyone, not just those who don’t want to read it.
To give a very hypothetical hypothetical, I do not like inspirational literature, and I don’t read it. However, my desire not to read that one particular type of literature does not and should not affect anyone else’s right to adore it.
However, most current examples of book challenges involve books for children, whether in school or at the public library. “What about the children?” is one its most successful rallying cries. And parents do have a right to control what their own children read. But the emphasis on that sentence is the bit about “their own children”. Just as parents who think completely differently from them, or in some cases parents of children who see themselves or their families represented in the books that other parents want to ban, actively desire that their children read books that reflect their experience, or what they believe is the world at large.
Sometimes Heather really does have two mommies. Sometimes two boys really do kiss. But as this list of the Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 shows, not everyone wants to see the world as it really is, and wants to keep their heads in the sand as long as inhumanly possible.
- This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
- George written by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
- Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
- Looking for Alaska written by John Green
Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
- Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
- Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
- Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
- Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
Reason: challenged for offensive language
There are many more resources about banned and challenged books at the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week site.
So celebrate your freedom to read by picking up a banned or challenged book. Or settle in for a Harry Potter re-read. The Harry Potter series has the number one spot on the banned and challenged list for the entire 2000-2009 decade!