Monday, September 28, 2009
In honor of Banned Books Week, I give you: my opinion. (Commence cheering.)
When I started library school, one of the very first things we went over was the American Library Association's views on Intellectual Freedom. We debated and talked over censorship and the freedom to read until it was pounded into our very beings. I was immediately won over by these ideas, which were actually quite new to me.
I am not an advocate for banning books, though there are books I deliberately avoid. I've never challenged a book's right to be on a library shelf. Or a bookstore shelf. But, sometimes I challenge the right for a book to be on my shelf. I think this is a side of the freedom to read debate that isn't often mentioned. I agree totally that no one else should be able to decide what my child should or should not read. I should not be able to decide what you or your child gets to read. But, this also means if I choose not to read certain books (or *gasp* to let my child read certain books) because I don't particularly like their content, that is my right.
I don't like a lot of books with certain types of content. That is one reason I put ratings (albeit subjective ones) for language, mature content, and violence on the books I review. I'm not encouraging people to run out and censor or attempt to ban books based on these ratings. I am trying to give people a heads up on the content of a book - either for their own reading or their child's. I also found when I went to library school, that being a religious conservative made me somewhat of a minority. Many of my colleagues are very outspoken liberals. (In fact, many people stereotype religious conservatives as the evil minions who attempt to ban books.) But, on banning and challenging books, I think we agree: it's wrong.
Anyway, last year I had a discussion with some of my reading friends about banned books lists - most of them mentioned that they specifically seek out the lists to read the books on them. Banned books really are some of the best books out there! For some lists, go to ALA's frequently challenged page - my personal favorite is the classics that are commonly challenged list; it has some of my all-time favorites on there.
I must, of course, link to other people's posts about Banned Books Week (Sept 26-Oct 3), so you can enjoy their fabulous thoughts:
Natasha of Maw Books Blog, who loves to read banned books. In fact, she thought far enough in advance to read them and post reviews during the week. I shall probably just link to ones I've read in the past. Hmph.
Angie of Angieville blogged about banned books on her shelf (and has more links than I could get my lazy bottom to find).
Nymeth at things mean a lot talks about her first clandestine reads - loved it!
So, go read a book - and enjoy that freedom!
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