Saturday, September 25, 2010

ALA Banned Books Week!

Today starts the American Library Associations Banned Books Week.  I just read through the ALA website and their pages about banned books.  I love that they promote everyone's right to free speech  and everyone's right to read what they want to read.   

Looking at the list for challenged or banned books in 2009-2010 I recognize that there are 9 books on there that I have read already and 2 that are actually on my to-be-read pile and right here in my house already!  I pretty vividly remember reading all of the nine books, and I do have to say that I can see how they could be controversial.  Two of them I read in school and the others I have read since being a teacher/mother.  As a teacher I'm always thinking about which of my students would enjoy a book I have read, and some of these I would definitely have to think carefully about who I would recommend them to, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend them to the right student who I think would be mature enough to read, understand, and interpret the book.  
The Perks of Being a WallflowerTo Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionThe Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia EditionTwisted
Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young GirlTwilight (The Twilight Saga)ttyl (Talk to You Later-Internet Girls)The Glass Castle: A MemoirThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Have you read any of these?  These are the 9 I have read that have been challenged or banned recently.  I was surprised at some of these and even more surprised at others that have been challenged or banned in the past (like Harry Potter!!!).  It's crazy.  I believe books should be available to all.  If you want to read it, okay, if you don't, then don't.  If you're a parent and you don't think it's appropriate for your child, then I do believe it's okay to talk to your child and explain why you might not think it's right for him or her, but banning it from a school, library, or school library is not cool.

Some of you have joined the #speakloudly conversation on Twitter after Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak was characterized as filthy and immoral.  Here's what she had to say about it: "This guy thinks SPEAK is pornography." I didn't post my own response right away, just because it's hard for me to think straight when something so insane happens.  There are two rape scenes in Speak and the book is an intense book because of what Melinda (the main character) deals with when she is raped.  I think it is an important book for young adults to read about what she is going through whether they identify with it in any way or are just gaining perspective.  This is a book that I have recommended to certain students and I always explain that it's a serious book and make sure to talk to them about what they read, mainly because I want them to understand the seriousness of the book and the gravity of it's message but also because Anderson leaves a lot for a reader to infer and I want to make sure the student gets what the book is about.  I believe so many people are outraged by this particular banning because the accusation is really off-base - and I know that because I read the whole book.

Speak and other challenged or banned books need people standing up for them and their worth in schools and libraries.  I hope that everyone out there is reading, but I truly wish that every teacher and parent out there is at least reading what their students or kids are reading.  Had I not read any of these banned books in this post, I wouldn't be qualified to make a case for them and their relevance and importance in society.  Since I have, I know what they are about and I know I would recommend any of them if I thought they were a fit for one of my students or friends.  For the books I haven't read, I can't say I would be interested in reading all of them, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stand in the way of someone who is interested in them.

I wish I could be part of the Chicago Banned Books Week Read-Out!  Even though I can't actually be there, I'm going to make sure I sit down and read between noon and 2:00 p.m. to show my support.  Here are the two books I'll be reading this week in honor of Banned Books Week:
The Tortilla CurtainThe Bermudez Triangle 
Stand up against book banning: 
read one of the books on the challenged or banned books lists, 
buy them, check them out, share them!

1 comment:

  1. I just bought Speak for my daughter who is a 9th grader. I bought it because I like the author but I have never read it. She told me it was a movie. We also discussed that the girl was assaulted. Your post has encouraged me to read it. She is also reading To Kill A Mockingbird for her English class and enjoying it. Have you read SOLD? It is the story of a child sold into prostitution in India. It was a choice on the summer reading list in the next town over from me and many parents complained. I read it and found it powerful but disturbing. Christine