Friday, September 27, 2013

On Banning Books


We're nearing the end of Banned Book Week. I know it's an event that happens every year, but I never remember when it falls. If I'm being honest, I usually let this week pass me by without thinking about it much. I know that sounds terrible, but I think it's because I've never felt like book banning has affected me personally. I've been thankful to live in towns with libraries that circulate what I want to read. 

I spent a lot of time at the library as a child, and my mom was always active in my reading life. It was right around my Boxcar Children reading phase, when she started inducing me also to read classics in my free time. That is to say, that I've always felt encouraged to read and explore the world of literature. My mom monitored what I read to a degree, although she wasn't unnecessarily strict about it. But I see a big difference in your parent thinking a book isn't age appropriate versus a book being unavailable because it has been banned by your town. 

You know the first time I even realized that people ban or even destroy books the don't like, was when I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I was obsessed with Harrison Ford as a child...but I digress. In the movie, Indy goes into Nazi infested Berlin and witnesses a book burning before getting his father's journal signed by Hitler. I remember asking my dad why on earth people would burn books? I was horrified! Although that is an extreme example, towns and cities in America and in other places in the world are still making executive decisions about what books should and shouldn't be on their shelves.

This year I took a look at ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990 - 1999, because that's the time period when I truly began to read and love books. As I went through the list, I thought about what would have happened if my favorite childhood books had been banned in my community? 

Then I actually saw two of my favorite childhood books listed. To Kill A Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time don't have all that much in common, but they both captured my heart and imagination, and made a huge impact on my life as a reader.  In fact, To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book. Ever. The idea that it might not have been part of my childhood is fairly horrifying. (Did you know that James and the Giant Peach, A Light in the Attic and Where's Waldo? are also on that list?)

I don't really have anything hugely profound to say about this topic, except that I hope you take a moment this week to do as the banner at the top says, and "celebrate the freedom to read," and be thankful for the books in your life. 

On an unrelated note, sorry I've been low on reviews this week. I've been reading but my review schedule got knocked out a bit. I'll be back again next week. Happy weekend!


  1. James and the Giant Peach was banned? REALLY? I would love to know the reason behind that, I adored that book. And all Roald Dahl's books, he was one of my favorites when I was younger. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of maybe three books I actually enjoyed reading in high school, the rest were work and I had to force myself to get through them because I was being tested on them. To Kill a Mockingbird I read because it was brilliant and engaging and I simply had to know what happened. What a shame it would be for other kids to miss out on that!

  2. I looked at the list and noticed that my favorite books were on the banned list including The Outsiders. I can't believe that classics like To Kill A Mockingbird end up on that list.

  3. It really shocked me to see James and the Giant Peach on that list. I looooved that book as a kid! And I agree that TKaM is just fantastic! Wonderful post, Lauren!(:

  4. The thought processes that go into what books people want banned...well, there are none. So many are put on those lists because people read a page and didn't like it or heard from someone that there was something "naughty" in it. Good lord. And the books on that list--I truly don't understand some. Only positive? It gets some of the older books attention from young readers who haven't heard of them until they went on a banned book list!

  5. My mom didn't really monitor my reading, but my dad tried to be strict with it. I had to hide certain books from him. I never understood why books were banned when the purpose is to show you what's wrong with situations or make you look at things in a different way! People are very odd. A Wrinkle in Time and all of L'Engle's books were really important in my life, and I didn't read TKAM until high school, but it's just crazy to think people wouldn't want those stories to be a part of their children!

    On another note, I've always loved Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is my favorite, ha!

  6. I am so lucky because my parents never really cared what I was reading, just so long as I was reading. I'm always baffled that people are challenging and attempting to ban books because it's so opposite to my reading philosophy (which is to read everything).

  7. This is a great post--and I think how many of us feel about the subject of banning books. And yes, I am always amazed (and horrified) at the books that make that list. Where would any of us be without To Kill a Mockingbird??

    But is it shallow of me to say that the thing I love most about this post is the Indiana Jones/ Harrison Ford references? I have been obsessed with that man for years too. Glad I'm not the only one:)

  8. As with everyone who loves books, I've always hated the idea of banning them completely. My parents were pretty aware of what I was reading growing up, and I definitely wasn't allowed to read anything and everything I wanted. And I fully support the idea of a parent being aware of what their kids are reading and being actively involved in helping shape those things while a child is still young. However, I can't imagine trying to ban a book for everyone in a school, area, etc. That just seems so strange to me! I don't care if someone doesn't want their kids to read certain books (particularly at certain ages), but it's so frustrating when they try and apply that ban to everyone. I, like you, am also shocked at some of the books that are on the banned list! I see some of my favorites - particularly To Kill A Mockingbird - on the list and can't even begin to describe how those books have impacted me personally. Can't imagine not having had the opportunity to read them!

  9. I always seem to miss banned books week, too, but I probably would not be a functional adult without books.


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