Read something naughty today – it’s Banned Book Week.
There are plenty of good reads to choose from. “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger and “The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck were all banned at one time. Ernest Hemingway has three entries, including “A Farewell to Arms,” that was required reading during my days at Turlock High.
“The American Library Association promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them,” notes the group’s banned book website, www.ala.org/bbooks/banned.
There are long lists of apparently titillating tales available at the site. For every book that was banned, many more were challenged. Challenges are when someone tries to keep people from reading a book. A ban is when they succeed.
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“Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice,” the librarians write.
Banned books are near and dear to my heart because the very idea made my budding young readers mad enough to struggle through and master a novel.
My reluctant reader, who we later realized was dyslexic, read the once-banned “Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain as an act of protest in first or second grade. I still remember her shock at the thought of people being allowed to take books away – six years’ worth of utter indignation quivering beneath a pile of unruly blond curls.
My bookworm started by reading comic books and – the top banned book of 2012 and 2013 – “Captain Underpants,” an ode to potty humor I now heartily recommend to parents frustrated by their own struggling readers, by Dav Pilkey.
Within a few years my son was reading “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury and “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, both banned in their day, as his reproach to repression.
The “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling we took on together, making it our nighttime reading long after he could have read it himself. I’d sit under a tree when I picked him up from school, reading a chapter while we waited for crazy traffic around the school to clear before heading home.
On nice days other moms and kids would wait with us, further corrupting the world with banned books. Ahh, those were the days.