Banned Books Week

A large part of my childhood reading life involved the Sweet Valley twins. In retrospect, I know now that the Wakefields are an odd bunch. Elizabeth is controlling and self-righteous while Jessica is insensitive and self-destructive. But back in our day, their weird adventures opened me to a lot of things in life, like friendship, love and ambition.

Unfortunately, not every child gets the same experiences I did. Libraries and governments over history have challenged, censored, and banned books with content they believed poisonous to the minds of people, especially youth. Banned Books Week is a response to that. The campaign encourages readers all around the world to pick up a banned book and celebrate it, to exercise the freedom to read.

favebannedbooks

My favorite “banned books”

1. Harry Potter series, Joanne Rowling
Banned for: witchcraft, violence

I find it sad whenever Harry Potter gets rejected for its wizardry and magic, because those things are supposedly un-Christian? Uhh. Fantasy and fiction are incredible and important because they test the limits of the imagination and can be used as metaphors for all things love, hope and courage. If you think that isn’t what you want for the youth, I have to wonder what your vision for the world is.

2. Looking for AlaskaJohn Green
Banned for: language, sexual content, and being too “mature” for its age group

I see how LFA can be controversial if misinterpreted. But it’s a great book, even if only at surface level, because it captures those wandering, seeking feelings that today’s youth tend to have. There are few things more fulfilling than finding your experiences expressed and affirmed by somebody else. Taking away Looking for Alaska means taking away that necessary experience from millions of people.

3. To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Banned for: language, racism

Okay, if you want to ban a book that acknowledges racism you are probably a racist. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite “classic,” not just because the writing is so good, but because it teaches all about respecting and caring about other people, no matter who they are or what form they come in. I seriously can’t wrap my head around the idea that this book gets banned for being dangerous material.

4. The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins
Banned for: violence, themes of rebellion, and being too “mature” for its age group

THG is currently my favorite YA series, but it wasn’t until it gained popularity that I realized just how controversial it was. People think that THG promotes the very things that it actually speaks against: sensationalized violence, child exploitation, and the false detachment of reality TV. It has a lot of difficult but important and increasingly relevant themes, and it is because of this that THG should not be banned, but rather discussed and taught so its message can shine through.

***

These are some of my favorite books that have been banned at some point, but there are many many more. Too many, in fact. But I think every [well-written] book has a very important message or effect to share with its readers and for this reason should be allowed to find its way to them. Every book with an unorthodox or controversial theme should all the more be encouraged because it encourages minds to grow open, to look at things more critically, and to form its own opinions of the world.

Any person or entity that thinks knowledge and learning is dangerous probably ought to reevaluate what they think they’re fighting for. Because it’s clearly not progress.

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14 comments
  1. I often think that the people who decide which books to ban have never actually read them. Otherwise, The Hunger Games and To Kill A Mockingbird would be applauded for the very reasons you state. I am a banned book reader apparently and will continue to be one. Thanks for a great blog. I’m off to find Looking For Alaska because it’s the only one on the list I haven’t read yet.

    • Apple said:

      I think so too!

      I hope you enjoy Looking for Alaska :)

  2. Celeste said:

    What an utterly fantastic idea! I had no idea it was banned books week but I fully support this idea!

    My favorite banned book is The Lorax :)

    • Apple said:

      Adding that to my to-read list! :)

  3. Jeane said:

    I’m a banned book reader too! So far my favorite is THG Trilogy. Cant wait for the movie release of Cathcing fire this November! :)

    • Apple said:

      Yes! I think the movie adaptations are a fantastic franchise, although they erase the message just a little bit. Still, I’m a huge fan! :)

  4. Joan D. said:

    It’s weird that some of the books on the list are wonderful, thought-provoking reads. It’s such a shame that they (the people behind the banning) don’t see the message behind the books.

    Aside from Harry Potter, gotta say I also love To Kill A Mockingbird (court room scene will always be my fave!). I’m also currently reading Flowers for Algernon, which I can’t believe was actually banned.

    • Apple said:

      Whenever I see a list of the top banned books, I actually take note of it because they’re sure to be good reads. Haha.

      Will keep an eye out for that book!

  5. Vika said:

    I didn’t even know those books were banned anywhere. Our school library had a different filtering system, if the librarian thought the book you wanted to take out was too mature for your age, she just wouldn’t let you. (Of course, me being me, I just went to the city library where no one cared what I took out.) The most outraged I ever got was when I wasn’t allowed to read Lord of the Rings. The city library was better stocked anyway, but the school’s was really convenient.

    • Apple said:

      Wow, that kind of individual censorship must be hard. And kind of unfair because the librarian gets to judge. I came from a Catholic school but, lucky for me, they didn’t have the time or manpower to screen every book that entered our library so we had our freedom.

      I’m glad you had the city library, though!

  6. Ahhh.. I grew up catching up with the Wakefield twins too! :)

    • Apple said:

      Did you hear about Sweet Valley Confidential? My world turned upside down!!

  7. Have you read Fahrenheit 457? Pretty much all about banning books and actual firemen burning them. The idea of banning books is kinda like banning movies or tv shows. There are so many books out there that are judged but have a good message behind it.

    This is is a good list you have. I have yet to read Looking for Alaska though.
    :)
    Anna

    • Apple said:

      I have heard of it, but I haven’t been able to get myself a copy! Maybe when my school’s secondhand bookshop comes back to campus. :)

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