From Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, libraries and schools across the country will recognize Banned Books Week.
It’s a chance for us to remind you about all the society-changing books that have been banned or challenged. And there’s a good chance that list includes your personal favorite.
Imagine your bookshelf without To Kill a Mockingbird, Color Purple, Animal Farm, Lord of the Rings orHarry Potter.
And you might say: But that was a long time ago. We don’t still do stuff like that today?
Yes, we do.
Authors from Sherman Alexie to Marjane Satrapi to Toni Morrison were repeatedly challenged in the last year. Their books were accused of being sexually explicit, unsuited for their age group or promoting a specific political viewpoint.
Kids books have been challenged too. In fact, on Sept. 23, we’re throwing a Captain Underpants party to celebrate what is still one of the most frequently challenged books in the United States.
Now Banned Books Week isn’t about forcing yourself to read authors you don’t enjoy or whose views you disagree with. And it isn’t just about championing books that other people might have concerns about. After all, everyone’s entitled to their own taste in literature.
Banned Books Week is about having the freedom to read.
There’s a reason we chose “Bradbury” as the password in our Banned Books video.
Ray Bradbury said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
So it doesn’t matter if no books are ever banned or challenged again. That is, it doesn’t matter if nobody reads them anyhow.
So commemorate Banned Books Week in the best possible way: Read.
Read a book that’s been banned or challenged. Read whatever you like.
But read. And decide for yourself what belongs on your bookshelf.