Mercurial Musings

on books & life

Why do I celebrate banned books?

I celebrate banned books because I believe books have the power to change the world. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly the reason many people want to ban books.

Books take readers to places they’d never be able to go on their own and expose them to points of view different from their own. Books help readers to feel less alone. Books inspire. Books tap into our emotions and let us share a multitude of experiences in a safe environment. Books are full of adventure and romance, fear and redemption, fantasy and reality.

For me, books were my constant friends. I was an only child in a military family. We were moving every three to four years from country to country; and while this was wild and amazing, it was also often scary. Books allowed me an escape and a way to tap into emotions and experiences I may not have had my own words for at the time. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged my reading habits (while they actively discouraged me from watching TV) the result was that I was reading voraciously and way above grade level at a very early age.  In 5th grade I was finding joy in works by Charles Dickens and Stephen King and even the Babysitter’s Club series. My parents never discouraged me from reading, but my mom was always there, ready to discuss anything I found troubling or confusing. 

The thought of someone wanting to prevent a book from getting into the hands of readers simply because they disagree with a point of view or situations present in the book frightens me. Once we let others start controlling what we read, we let them control our minds.
Now, let me make a clear distinction; and, if I may be presumptuous, a suggestion.  There is, in my mind, a huge difference between banning and parenting. If a parent decides that a particular book is inappropriate for her child (for whatever reason) that is parenting. If that parent then decides to call for the book to be removed from schools and libraries because she thinks it is bad for all children, that is banning. Sadly, it is often true that people call for the banning of books without having actually read the books themselves. I suggest that parents read with their children. Ask your child why he wants to read a particular book. Read the book yourself and then decide if it’s appropriate. Or, read the book with your child and start a dialogue. Books are cool like that; they present opportunities for people to broach subjects they may not have been comfortable doing so before.

I celebrate banned books because they are books people believe are dangerous or somehow are more powerful than all the other books out there and I want to know why. When I hear someone call for a book to be removed from shelves, I make a point of finding and reading that book to see what all the fuss is about. I enjoy reading about points of view different from my own; it gives me a new perspective on the world. I love discussing books with other people to hear their ideas and opinions. Diversity is what makes this world beautiful and exciting, banning is an attempt to whitewash our world in order to celebrate only one point of view. I celebrate banned books because in doing so, I celebrate my intellectual freedom.

Why do you celebrate banned books?

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I’m giving away the top ten banned/challenged books of 2010:

You may also be interested in my musings on the WSJ article that spawned the #YASaves movement this summer:

Check out the other bloggers celebrating Banned Books Week:

5 thoughts on “Why Celebrate Banned Books?

  1. Petra says:

    That's so nicely written, I agree with you completely!


  2. Great post! I say kudos to the authors that have the courage to write the strong books that have changed our world (To Kill A Mockingbird, Farenheit 451, Beloved….)

    They had the courage to go banned.


  3. I totally agree with what you said – this is a parenting issue, not a banning issue. We as a society shouldn't let the views of a few change the actions of all of us.


  4. danielle. says:

    Thanks so much for the feedback guys! I agree with Sheila–so much credit goes to the writers who dare to write the books that have the power to impact our world so deeply.


  5. Vicki says:

    I haven't read that many banned books, but I'm going to make a point of seeking them out from now on. I'm missing out on some great stories!


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