It’s National Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and the fact that, despite challenges, most books remain widely available thanks to people who fight for them. The American Library Association explains that it “brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”
Some classic children’s books have been banned in the past include beloved books that found their way into the hearts of millions of readers and are considered classics:
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
“James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl
“Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh
“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
“The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
“The Diary of Anne Frank” by Anne Frank
A children’s book topped the list of the most challenged books in 2013. The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey was the target of people who objected to it on the grounds of offensive language, unsuited for age group and violence.
It’s hard to imagine a world without those wonderful books, isn’t it?
Libraries and bookstores all around country are hosting events to celebrate books, and you can find many of them listed here. Families can also celebrate at home by just reading a few of the books on the banned book list and talking about them.
It’s also a great chance to talk with older kids about censorship and who decides what is appropriate and when. A good example of this is that many have challenged The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Not all parents wanted their kids reading them due to the violent nature of the story, which Collins said she understood. “That’s not unreasonable. They are violent. It’s a war trilogy,” she said.
My daughter balked at reading the trilogy in fourth grade when the books were popular with her friends. A few years later, she dove into them and really enjoyed them. She knew when she was ready. While the books are not for everyone, their appropriateness for children is a topic for parents, teachers and the children themselves to discuss on a case-by-case basis. It’s not a choice that should be made for them by people the kids have never met and who have no familiarity with their maturity, life experiences, reading level, and other factors that should be taken into consideration.
Learn a little more about the books that were challenged last year:
I agree with what ChicagoNow blogger LitzyDitz said in her post on Banned Books Week, “[P]arents play an important role in guiding what their own children should read. I understand if a parent of a seventh grader is uncomfortable with their child reading a book with explicit language or sexual situations. But I also think parenting roles apply to just your own set of kids.”
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
We all deserve the right to read.
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