National Banned Books Week

This seems an odd title to me, but the purpose is so necessary in our crazy world. The rest of the official title is: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. That I can really get behind. Our local newspaper ran an editorial in Sunday’s paper. I’m posting it entirely because it states the case so well.

thinkstockphotos-115944250 iStock phots-Getty Images

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 25, 2016

“Books contain powerful tools. They build worlds, explain the unknown and teach lessons. Without them, we would live duller lives.

They can illustrate hurt and heartbreak but have the ability to balance it with wonder and courage.

They become integral to our growth into adulthood, but a few Americans still attempt to ban some of these books from students.

Books should be available for everyone, and Banned Books Week, which starts Sunday, (September 25) celebrates that freedom.

Each year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association compiles the list of frequently challenged books. For a book to be considered “challenged,” someone has to attempt to remove or restrict it from a school’s curriculum or library.

The ALA says about 40 percent of the challenges come from parents.

Classics like The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck are frequently challenged.

Of Mice and Men was challenged as recently as 2014.

The same year, Highland Park “suspended” seven books. Though all the books were reinstated, The Dallas Morning News reported parents reasoned the ban by saying high school students should not be exposed to some of the hardships and controversies of adulthood. The books had content dealing with either sexual content, abortion, abuse and/or rape.

They also include material about self-acceptance, overcoming grief, trauma and/or heartbreak, understanding racial oppression, enduring hard life situations and hope.

Parents have every right to decide on appropriate reading material for their child. If they don’t want their kid reading The Catcher in the Rye at school, that’s fine. But the same parents can’t deem the book inappropriate for every student.

The minority deeming which books are allowed for the majority then removing the “offending” material? That’s censorship and a detriment to students.

Books can give students tools to navigate adulthood.

We should never take that away.”

stand-up_twitter from the ALA site

I hope you’ll take a moment to look at the list of Banned Books. I’d hazard a guess that you read more than one or two. I have.

As an author, this is an important freedom for me. I need to tell my story the best way I can. My next book, THE THEATRE, releasing the end of October, has a story line about gay-bashing. I suspect some folks will take offense at some of the things I wrote. I confess I deleted some sentences I thought were maybe too controversial, but that was my right as the author. I could’ve chosen to leave them in. My choice.the-theatre-300dpi

As the reader, your choice is to decide whether to read the book in the first place. (I hope many of you will. :)) Then to decide if you liked it. Did I tell the story well? Could you identify with any of the characters? Did you empathize with the characters? You didn’t see too many errors. (Probably impossible to eliminate them all. At some point the author has to decide that the book is as good as it can be and still get it published in this century!) At the end of the book, did you feel good?

As the newspaper editorial states, parents can make decisions for their own children, but a minority of parents don’t have the right to keep others children from reading a particular book.

There are plenty of books out there, I don’t choose to read, but the authors have the right to write those books.

Lastly, let me say thank you to all librarians everywhere who guard the gates of our freedom to read.

Have you read any banned books? Have you run into censorship situations either in schools or libraries? Love to hear from you.

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8 responses to “National Banned Books Week

  1. Many of the books that have been banned are very mild by today’s standards. I suspect that if the parents read them rather than blindly banning them they’d be surprised. Harry Potter was a book that many parents didn’t want their children “exposed to” up here. At least one year this meant that for the grade mtpy son was in one class had a teacher who allowed Harry Potter and the other class didn’t. Not all parents, but some, felt that Harry Potter’S focus on magic and witchcraft was evil and against Christian principles.

    I suspect you’ll handle a difficult subject well, with taste and sensitivity..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Pat. I was an assistant principal when the first Harry Potter book hit the market. We too, had parents claiming it was anti Christian. I read it so I’d be able to comment. Don’t see how it was any different than all the Anderson Fairy tales. Thanks for stopping and sharing. 🙂

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  2. I’m sure parents in the early 20th century would roll over in their graves if they saw the topics in today’s books. Times change. Thinking changes. Even my daughters and I have discussions about what is considered acceptable nowadays that my generation would not allow. I applaud your courage to include a controversial topic in the Theatre. I can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, JQ. Thank goodness times change! I think we forget all the rights women (and blacks) didn’t use to have. Like owning property. Even when I was a young woman, everything had to be in my husband’s name. Of course, Texas has a history of being parochial and slow to change, but that was back in the 1970’s. I think many people will be okay with what I’ve written. Suzanne Brockmann has had gay characters for a long time. (Of course, she’s a really good author!) Guess we’ll, see. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

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  3. Marsha, this was a wonderful article by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Thank you for sharing it. Also your commentary was right on!!!

    I personally have never run into censorship situations. Had I, I probably would have read the books. 😉

    Thank you, Marsha for another thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Susan. Glad you liked the newspaper op ed piece. I thought they said it really well. We have frequent up-heavels in our area about the books some teacher or school recommends. Of course, we have an incredibly narrow-minded State Board of Education–they’re still battling the teaching of Evolution. Wasn’t the Scopes Trial back in the early 1900’s? I’m reading your latest book and really enjoying your great descriptions of NYC. I can really picture the Brownstone. I’ll post a review when I finish. Thanks for stopping and for tweeting. My internet was out of whack for most of the morning or I’d have been here sooner. 🙂

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  4. Hi Marsha,
    Great topic. Great post. Thank you for sharing.
    One banned book experience that got me in a twist was when many people wanted the Harry Potter series banned. Educated people even! Meanwhile the kids lapped the stories up,
    all the best,
    Jo-Ann

    Liked by 1 person

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