Thursday, September 29, 2016

People Are Diverse. Books Should Be Too

So I know I'm coming in late to this one since Banned Books Week ends October 1st but it is an important issue and one that I think any true lover of books feels passionate about. I would think at this point in time, we would be beyond the whole freedom of speech and censorship thing but the world is full of ignorance. But one need to only look at our current election to see that. Look how many people who are supporting Trump (whoops, did I say that). 

I think one of the greatest gifts I was given as a child was the encouragement to read but also the freedom to read any book that struck my fancy. Looking back on it now, I did certainly read books that might not have been "age appropriate" but my parents or Gram never told me I couldn't read something. I distinctly remember reading one of my Gram's "romance" books because I had nothing else to read. Granted the subject matter was far over my head but I was so addicted to reading, I read anything I could get my hands on, often times more than once. Reading has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it's interwoven throughout my childhood. When I slept over at my Gram's, we would go to bed and read. It started out as her reading to me and then me reading to her and eventually to us each reading our respective books. 

I strongly believe that children should be exposed to different thoughts and ideas so they can create their own opinions and views on the world. As children, we are unbiased and without prejudice but as more beliefs are imposed upon us, our belief system is guided a certain way. Once these set of beliefs or morals are formed, more often than not we do not challenge those thoughts that have been instilled in us since childhood.  The close mindedness is perpetuated and we don't evolve as a society. 

I came across these alarming facts from the ALA website and had to share them. I am appalled that in five short years, our views on censorship have actually regressed and become more conservative.

In July 2015, a Harris poll on attitudes about book banning and school libraries revealed that out of the 2,244 US adults who participated, the percentage who felt that certain books should be banned increased by more than half since the previous survey in 2011. Twenty-eight percent believe certain books should be banned today, compared with 18% four years ago. One-fourth (24%) are unsure, which leaves less than half of Americans convinced that no book should be banned (48%). Republicans (42%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (23%) or Independents (22%) to believe there are any books that should be banned. In addition, adults who have completed high school or less (33%) are more likely than those with higher levels of education (some college 25%, college graduates 24%, postgraduates 23%) to believe there are books that should be banned.
Three-fifths of Americans believe children should not be able to get books containing explicit language from school libraries (60%, down two points from 2011), while half say the same of books with references to violence (48%, the same as in 2011). Interestingly, similar numbers of adults would like to remove books that include witchcraft or sorcery (44%, up three points) and those with references to sex (43%, down two points) from school library shelves. A little less than four in 10 each would like to keep out books with references to drugs or alcohol (37%, down four points) and books that include vampires (36%, up two points).

In addition, a third of the respondents (33%) do not think children should be able to get the Koran from their school library and three in 10 say the same of the Torah or Talmud (29%). A fourth don’t think children should be able to get books that question the existence of a divine being or beings from school libraries (26%), while two in 10 say the same of books that discuss creationism (19%) and 16% feel this way about books that discuss evolution. (source)
If you haven't already, you should take a look at the top 100 banned books from the last decade. I've read 24 but I've heard of about every single book. I looked at the top 100 from the 90's and some of them, I have no clue why they would even be on there, like James and the Giant Peach...why!? 

The beauty of books is that there's something out there for everyone. Here's a concept; if it offends you, don't read it but don't make it so no one else can either. People are diverse and books should be too. We aren't all white or straight or believe God so why should our books fit that mold. 

Please consider reading a banned book in support of books everywhere. Better yet, buy a banned book and help support the authors that are writing and creating diversity in the book world.

What do you think about banned books? 
What book are you reading in support of Banned Books Week? 


  1. i love that you grew up with reading like that! i grew up reading, but no-one in my life read, which was good and bad - good because no-one had any idea what i was reading and if it was appropriate or not (i seriously read some effed up books when i was like 10, but like you, kind of went over my head) and bad because i thought it was something lame or whatever, cause i never saw anyone else doing it.
    i agree with everything you said about the banned books (but really, James and the Giant Peach? WHY THOUGH?) and kids being able to have access to everything. i know what i 'believe' and my opinions about certain things, but i came into those on my own, they differ from my mum's. i don't necessarily want my kids to believe in things i don't, or not accept things that i wholeheartedly do, but i do want them to come to those opinions on their own, and be exposed to as many things as possible.

  2. Yes! Amen to all of this.

    I also consider being free to read anything I wanted to when I was younger one of the great gifts of my life.

  3. I'm giving you a standing ovation from afar! Sharing in my next "blogger love" segment.
    I remember reading Helter Skelter when I was in 9th or 10th grade. Some may think the Manson cult and subsequent murders are not topics for a teen girl to read. I found them fascinating, and my mother did not discourage me.
    Last year, I decided that I will read a banned book every "Banned Book Week", but I added a ton to my "tbr" list as well. This week, I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Does it talk about sex, racism, abuse, and the rape of a child? Yes. But, it does so with being informative and giving insight...not to glorify or sensationalize the actions.