Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Filed in Bookish Rant or Raves , featured , The Rocket Lover Posted on October 3, 2012 @ 11:00 am 2 comments

Have you ever read a Banned Book? I bet you have. You might have even read a banned book to your child! Because it’s not all about sex. Violence gets challenged. Speaking truth to power gets challenged. And so do historical truths that make people uncomfortable.

And yes, sex makes a lot of people very uncomfortable!

This week, September 30-October 6, is Banned Books Week in the U.S. It celebrates the Freedom to Read what we want, when we want, and, I think, however we want, whether that’s print, audiobook, or ebook. Something that’s going to become increasingly important in the future.

It’s fitting that one of the most frequently challenged books of all time is 1984 by George Orwell. Lest we forget, 1984 is the book that brought us the very concept of “Big Brother”.

It’s easy to talk about the books that get banned or challenged. And I heartily recommend that you take a look at those lists over at the official Banned Books Week site and at the American Library Association site. The range of titles and subjects will astonish you.

Everything bothers somebody.

The whole point of Banned Books Week, and its clarion call to Celebrate the Freedom to Read, is that if I don’t want to read something, that shouldn’t stop you from being able to read it, and if you don’t want to read something, you  shouldn’t be able to stop me from reading it.

Comic books and manga are particularly challenged.  That’s why the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is one of the supporters of Banned Books Week. Heck, that’s why there IS a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in the first place!

The other supporters are the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the PEN American Center and Project Censored.

What can you do to celebrate the Freedom to Read? See if there’s a Banned Books Week event going on in your community this week. Many bookstores and libraries are sponsoring “Read Outs” – continuous readings of banned books. If you’re a blogger, write a blog post about Banned Books Week. Everyone can participate in the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube.

If you’re still wondering which banned book you might have read to your child, or had read to you as a child, it’s Maurice Sendak’s marvelous Where the Wild Things Are. And it is truly wild to think that someone might deprive a child the joy of that book through censorship.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read, read a banned book.

About Marlene

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in the Atlanta suburbs. She and her husband are owned by four cats, just ask them. She's a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She's also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads. She is also the publisher of Ebook Review Central.

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  • draconismoi October 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Did you know Powells has a Banned Books aisle? It’s awesome! http://www.powells.com/section/banned-books/

    It’s so much fun to browse through them and see what’s been sending uptight parents into tizzies. And then buy them.

    It’s always hilarious when the ridiculously non-objectionable titles still get challenged. Like “The Face on the Milk Carton.” Really people, REALLY? The story of a kidnapped child who isn’t raped and murdered is super offensive to you?

    Everyone is going to be offended by something. And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to read the Weetzie Bat books to a group of impressionable teenagers, ergo turning them into queer magic-using devil-worshipers.

  • Susan October 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I’m glad that librarians and booksellers are fighting the good fight, but dismayed that there’s a need for them to do so. The idea of banned books is such a bizarre thing to me. Growing up, my parents were *extraordinarily* conservative. Reallyreallyreally conservative. They weren’t big readers themselves, but they were very supportive of my “habit” and never censored or disparaged my reading choices. Nothing was off limits to me. Once, when I was maybe 11, they jokingly said they never wanted me to read any Jacqueline Susann books. (Yes, I know I’m dating myself here.) Of course, that just piqued my interest so within a week I’d managed to buy and read a (really awful) JS book, and then told them all about it. . . and not a negative word was said in response. I didn’t fully appreciate their attitude at the time, but I did later on.

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