Celebrate Banned Books Week!

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

To me, banning a book shows a sign of weakness. Does a book really have that much more power over your kids than you do? If you are so worried about people—particularly children—getting the “wrong idea” from a piece of printed literature, and think that a book has the power to brainwash people into anarchy or—gasp!—atheism,  doesn’t banning it defeat the purpose?

If you disagreed with a piece of literature, wouldn’t your sentiments be better served by, I don’t know, taking the time to talk with kids about the book, rather than entice them to read it by saying they can’t? Would a rational discussion about the ideas within not be better than banning its existence—and then either A. encouraging it to be read anyway by making such a controversy out of it, or B. sheltering kids from ideas only to keep them ignorant of important issues and literature?

And the thing is, a lot of people calling for bans are religious groups, which strikes me as highly ironic. Religious literature has some of the most violent, profane acts within it—as well as the same, if not superior, capability of giving the “wrong idea” or “brainwashing” young minds. That’s why The Bible is also on the list of books that have been banned, of course.

None of this is to say that some books should be kept at bay until kids are old enough to understand them. I certainly wouldn’t want a five-year-old to get a copy of Penthouse Letters, though that’s not exactly what I’d call literature. And there’s a running joke about my own “child endangerment” in my family since I nabbed my first Stephen King novel—Cujo—right off my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was nine or ten years old. You know what? I read that book in class and nobody said a word.

And then there’s people rabble-rousing and crying foul when a book about two daddy penguins (And Tango Makes Three—an adorable little book) who raise an orphan penguin chick is released in children’s libraries. Even if the ancient, cobwebbed belief that “homosexuality is wrong” permeates your dinner discussions, that’s still no reason to take a perfectly innocent book about something that really happened—and that often happens in the animal kingdom--off the shelves.

Release the books, I say, and with them free thought and parental discussion! Imagine if every parent took the time to discuss his or her child’s literature with them—even dare to read the book along with them… What a revolutionary thought. Instead of sending a note demanding that your child be excluded from reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Catcher in the Rye, why not read along and talk about it with your child? You’ll get a bonding experience, a chance to share ideas (and get the scoop on your own kid’s thoughts), and you might even learn something new yourself.

For a list of banned books to check out, click here. Wikipedia also has a list including the why’s and where’s of each ban.