With respect to Banned Book Week
Apparently banned books are in the air right now. Not only does my Aunt have a banned book week coming up but another close friend’s son was sent to the office in Arizona for reading a banned book for a book report (Harry Potter). Banned book week is the last week of September this year.
How do schools, libraries and communities decide what you and your children get to read in the privacy of our own homes, and who are these literary masters?
With more and more touchy subjects in pop, rap and country music, more disturbing violence, sex and hatred, comedy in T.V. and movies; let us not forget about the painters throughout the centuries, where is this going to end and is it?
Apparently the answer is in the question, ‘where do we stop?’ Is there going to be a point where they remove mythology and Arthurian legends because of its references to magic? Do we strip the shelves of medieval literature because it presupposes the existence of saints? Do we remove Macbeth because of the murders and witches? I feel and believe that most would say that we are well beyond the point where they should stop.
I personally feel that when we start censoring what our children can read we have lost focus on the reason that they are reading in the first place. Censoring a young mind is the equivalent to taking meat out of their diet and then wondering why their bodies are not developing properly. These people that censor our young peoples minds are the same ones that are promoting behavioral drugs in the schools for better control of our children. They are not good representation of what our world is really about. In my house growing up it was about reading first, this opened a window to discuss certain topics that were questionable and allow my parents and family to understand me and my thinking better. Today however, it appears that that the religious right and the politically correct don’t care that you have a brain of your own, they know better than you what you should read and what topics are taboo.
Judy Blume wrote an article that I read a few years back stating “if it is not one ism it is another: racism, terrorism, universalism, idealism, new ageism” don’t forget vampirism. Ok, I added vampirism!
Is censorship in schools good? Is it necessary to ban books? Each person answers these questions differently. This is the core of the problem for educators. Books can be found offensive for many reasons. Here are just some reasons taken from Rethinking Schools Online:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou. Reason: Rape scene, “anti-white”
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck. Reason: Profanity
Go Ask Alice Anonymous. Reason: Drug use, sexual situations, profanity
Harry Potter. Reason: Witchcraft, disrespect of authority
The OIF (Office for Intellectual Freedom) mission is to educate libraries and schools on the concept of intellectual freedom that is embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, allowing free access to libraries and material of all genres.
There is no set way to ban books in our country and as many principals and media specialists will tell you, they don’t bring some books into schools or libraries because they don’t want to deal with the few that will find fault with the book. I suppose you could say that they are recognizing the bully and avoiding them.
How are we to grow and become successful and worthy of this great country if we are not permitted to access books that someone else has found uncomfortable to them? We wouldn’t have the internet or computers if it weren’t for authors like Arthur C. Clark, Jules Vern, H.G. Wells, Issac Asimov or Robert Heinlein inspiring young minds to think of what the future could be when we had the knowledge to fulfill the dreams. I feel that the people that make decisions must be very sad and lonely individuals trying to fit into a world that isn’t real, think about it next time when you find out a book is banned or censored because of material that is natural, historical, scientific and simply human.