|Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association.|
When I was in the 6th grade, one of my teachers pulled me aside to ask why I was carrying around a beat up old copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. When I told her I was reading it for our assigned book report (she did tell us we could read anything we wanted) she told me it was an "inappropriate selection for someone my age" and would speak to my parents about it.
The next day, that conversation took place between my teacher and my dad. When she asked him if he knew what book I was reading and planned on presenting to the class his response was, "Yes. I let her borrow my copy of the book for the project."
This week is Banned Books Week. A celebration of those books that have been banned at one time or another because someone somewhere had some ridiculous notion that a book was too graphic, sexually explicit, vulgar, etc. when really most of them are a pretty realistic portrayal of life because as well all know, life is full of lollipop and daisies. Not sex, drugs, rock-n-roll and a few f-bombs thrown around for good measure.
Ok so some of the reasons for wanting a book banned go well beyond that, but the point is, banning a book which presents a different or unorthodox viewpoint doesn't accomplish anything useful. The idea that certain books need to be banned to "project our youth" do nothing of the sort. In fact, they encourage some youth (such as myself) to actively seek these books out just to see what all the fuss is about. Totally counterproductive.
With that being said, this week I'll be participating in the celebration of banned books by in fact, reading only books which have well.....been banned at one time or another. Can I tell you, trying to decide which books to add to my "to-read" list was exceptionally difficult as I've read quite a few of these books already, but my list is ready and I'm looking forward to reading my first book tonight.