Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Which Amy Tries to Understand Banning Books

The ALA (American Library Association) is launching Banned Books Week from 9/25 - 10/2. The tagline for this "celebration" is Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read.


I mean, really? Has book banning gotten so huge and out of control that it needs a whole week dedicated to it?

I love to read. Ask anyone who knows me or even sorta knows me, reading is my life. Running a close second and third to reading are writing and scarfing down pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream while wearing stretchy pants and watching Orlando Bloom movies, but I digress.

But I don't get banning books. How can you ban a book? Who gets to decide a book is "filthy" or "trashy" or "anti-family" or any of the others phrases that crazy nutjobs use? Can you really just remove a book from library shelves and reading lists because some whiny parents who probably haven't opened a book since high school suddenly got it in their heads that their kids' AP English teacher is peddling smut?

God, this kind of crap pisses me off.

Do you know what and who's on the Banned Books Lists? I mean, you've got the Usual Suspects of English Literature--including The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, A Separate Peace, 1984 and The Great Gatsby (all of which, excluding To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984, make me want to stick pins in my eyes)--plus the Harry Potter series and pretty much every book written by Stephen King and Judy Blume, but you won't believe some of the others. You're going to die laughing*:

Captain Underpants (series) by Dave Pilkey
Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
And my two absolute favourites:
Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbara Park
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

C'mon, people! Junie B. Jones? Are you freaking kidding me? It's a chapter book written for elementary schoolers! What could possibly be wrong with it? Because Junie is a little sassy and acts too big for her britches now and then? Hello! What elementary schooler doesn't? I have a 3 year old who's sassy and acts too big for her britches. Junie always does right in the end and learns a good lesson.

I can't even fathom banning Fahrenheit 451. They do know that book is about BOOK BANNING AND BURNING, right? You'd think that the right wing fruitloops who decided that Fahrenheit 451 needed to be banned would actually like the book and its ideals: Books are bad, reading is bad, critical thought is bad, and etc. The reasons that the novel was originally banned was because of the violence, disregard for human life and hedonism. But, if you really read Fahrenheit 451, you'll soon learn that the reason the book's population is so violent, hedonistic, and unintelligent was because books were being banned and destroyed in their world.

Irony thy name is book banning.

While I do think some books deserve to have marshmallows roasted over them (Stephanie Meyer, Twilight hack, I'm looking at you, sweetheart), in this day and age, not enough kids are reading. And what they are choosing to read is getting banned more and more often. If you keep taking books out of the hands of kids and restricting what they have access to, how can we raise them into adults with opinions, ideas, and thoughts of their own?

I could never try to remove a book from a library shelf or high school reading list. Not only is it wrong, self-destructive, and just plain silly, I just don't have the wherewithal to start a letter-writing campaign and a legal battle just because some fictional character in a novel decided to say "fuck." Once.

So, go grab your copy of Slaughterhouse-Five, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Heather Has Two Mommies, or The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things and get ready to celebrate Banned Books Week; because if we don't celebrate it, who will?
*These books are on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so jealous that you A) got a blog post written and B) that it had nothing to do with being a mommy. Two things I haven't managed to do lately.

    So many of the titles you listed are faves. Fahrenheit, 1984, Slaughterhouse Five among them. I wrote about 1984 for my senior AP English Exam. It couldn't have been that good because I only got a 3. You would have kicked some ass in that class.


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