In honor of banned book week, I thought I would share my thoughts on banned books. Please keep in mind that these are just my opinions, and I’m not setting out to hurt anyone with anything that I say.
To put it flatly, I think banning books is one of the most idiotic thing someone could do. Let me explain.
When you ban a child from reading a book, all you’re doing is pushing them to go out and find a way to read that book. It’s human nature; everyone wants what they can’t have. Banning books is just forcing kids to read this content in secret. And let’s look at why that’s a bad thing, shall we? Why are these books being banned? Because they cover content that people deem “wrong” or “taboo”. Well, if children are going to go out and read it anyway, they’re going to read these subject matters, and more often than not, they’ll have opinions about them. They’ll have questions. They’ll want to discuss it. But where, pray tell, are they going to share these opinions, ask these questions, and discuss these books? Because it certainly won’t be in the safe environment of a classroom. Why? Because they’re banned.
We’re pushing children to have thoughts and feelings on things that should be talked about. Parents shouldn’t be afraid of their children reading books and asking questions. Adults shouldn’t be afraid of children and young adults forming opinions. I was blessed and had parents that allowed me to read what I want, and if I had questions I knew that I could ask them and they would be upfront with me about it. That’s how all parents should be. We want to encourage young minds to read, not force them in to believing that some books are “good” and some books are “bad”.
Laurie Halse Anderson is an author whose books Speak and Wintergirls have been banned and/or challenged because they deal with rape and eating disorders, respectively. Why would you want to prevent young people from reading those books? Wouldn’t you want young girls to be made aware of social issues such as rape and anorexia? I would think so.
Stephen Chbosky’s book The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a completely harmless book of a boy trying to discover who he is, and that book is frequently challenged because it has homosexuality, offensive language, and masturbation. Oh, because teenagers don’t swear, masturbate, or know what homosexuals are, right? Wrong. And hiding this book from it’s intended audience is just going to make them think that things like homosexuality and masturbation are dirty, and they’re not. They’re normal.
Ellen Hopkins’ books are written in free verse and every single one deals with hard hitting things, such as her book Crank that deals with a meth addiction, and Tricks which deals with teenage prostitution. Do you think these are topics parents are talking about with their children? I’m going to say no. And will they ever? Not if they keep banning Mrs. Hopkins’ books.
Those are just a few authors who have to deal with people telling them that their books cannot be read by their target audiences. The point I’m trying to get at here, is that books that are being banned are books that could help us grow. They could teach our young minds and they could help our young minds. Stop being afraid of literature making your children ask questions. If you read a book that makes you question your beliefs, that’s not always bad thing. It’s okay to be told something different than what you’re used to. Do not let young people grow up to be as closed minded. Let them grow.
Let them read.