Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
My Brother Sam is Dead by James and Christopher Collier
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Nancy Drew (the series) by Carolyn Keene
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
So just what could this very diverse list of books possibly have in common?
1) I have read them all, either as a child, student, or adult.
2) I have loved them all (and hated a few)
3) I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read them all--whether I loved OR hated them.
4) And finally, ALL of these books at one time have been challenged or banned.
What this means, is that if the person who challenged these books had their way, I might never have had the opportunity to read these books. My right to exercise my choice would have been taken away. And oh my, I have some very particular feelings about choice.
On a very gut level reaction, I am insulted when someone insists on making a choice for me. What they are in essence saying is: I am smarter than you. I am a better parent than you. I am a better citizen than you. I am better informed than you. I am better, period.
Yes, they are certainly better to make decisions about their own life, but please, not about mine. I may be stupid, biased, swayed, uninformed, have bad breath or am just plain ignorant, but choice is something I value. More than value. It defines everything about me, who I am in this world, and what I might be in the next one. Do not take away my choice.
And to illustrate my point I will cite a story, a story from historically, one of the most banned and challenged books of all time: The Bible. In the book of Genesis God created a man and woman in his image. That image included free will. Choice. He could have made a man and woman in the image of robots–always doing everything as they were told. Things might have gone much easier for the world if he had, right? But he didn’t. IF, in all his wisdom, he gave man and woman the right to choose, and not only that but he gave them this right in the first pages of the most widely read book of all time, who am I to take that right away?
By now you are probably well aware that this is Banned Books Week. The problem with banning books is that there isn’t a book on earth that isn’t disliked by someone. If we got rid of every book that someone hated, the books that we love would be among them and they would be gone too. I can’t imagine a world without books. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Reading Little Red Riding Hood as a child certainly impacted me (read my bio) but I survived it and am none the worse for wear. Ban Little Red Riding Hood? Preposterous!
Without a doubt, we've all read a book that's been banned somewhere. Maybe you're reading one right now. What's your favorite banned book?