If you didn’t know, this week is Banned Book Week.
There is a lot to say about banning books. Is it wrong? Is it Constitutional? Why is x book banned and y book isn’t? Why ban a book at all?I don’t know these answers, but I do know that I love books.
My third grade teacher read How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, out loud to us after lunch. I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle in middle school, and began my love of fantasy and science fiction. I started reading Stephen King at the ripe age of 13. I was encouraged to read classical literature, and sadly, most of those books are on someone’s banned list.
Society has definitely changed its view on many books. What was read by elementary students in the past is no longer available in the library. Many books I read in high school, are no longer on the shelves. For me, as an avid reader and writer, it is confusing. Why has there been such a change and shift in the way society views books?
I think the biggest reason people feel the need to ban books is fear.
Fear of change
Fear of new ideas
Fear of the future
For the most part, people resist change. It is a scary thing. Change is embracing the future. You aren’t sure how things are going to work or even if they will. And all that work you’ve put into things that worked in the past, it may not be something applicable to what you are presented with.
That is a scary thought. And it is even more frightening when think of your kids striking out and embracing change.
People like security, they go to work, get paid, eat the same foods and want to feel safe. Most people try to limit their experiences to things that are familiar. Any thing out of the ordinary, some people do not know how to react.
Most of the books on those banned lists introduce elements of the different, new ideas, change. Therefore, those books and the ideas within are seen as a threat.
But I don’t see books or the ideas within those pages as threats. I see them as a breath of fresh air. It is kind of like throwing in a teaspoon of cinnamon in your brewed tea instead of just the plain little bags. The world is changing. With the internet, it is changing faster than ever, and it is hard to keep up with everything.
That is probably why there is such an increase in the number of books being banned.
It is hard to hold on to what you know, when you are faced with the knowledge that it could be wrong or immoral.
It is what books do. Point out things that we try not to notice. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s a slap in the face. And it can be hard to deal with.
I don’t think anyone has a right to tell any other adult what to read. I do believe that some books shouldn’t be read by some younger children. For example, at 8, I would not have let my boys read most of Stephen King’s work. However, now that they are teenagers, if they think they can handle it, I’ll gladly get those books for them. If they would like to read about war or sexuality, I’ll get those for them too. But I’ll always be open to discussion as to what they read and why they wanted to read it.
I think that is important and why there are so many misconceptions about many of the banned books.
People don’t discuss the ideas so they become more comfortable. They feel threatened or alienated and check a box to say they disapprove. That, to me, is unfair. And why I support the books that are banned.