Do You Read Banned Books?

Of course not, you say. Horrors, no. Well, I bet you do if you actually look at the official American Library Association list of Banned and Challenged books.

So, the week of September 26 to October 3 we celebrate these books and the freedom to read. This is a great teachable moment, too, to make a point to kids of all ages that books are a luxury in many places in the world, as is reading whatever you choose. In fact, Kids off the Couch has a great post about this, too. We could get really political with this conversation and look at those countries but let's focus on ourselves and look at the top ten from the list.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

We're talking classics that are part of the conversations that educated people have. I've only read 6 of the 10 on the list but I know enough of the stories of the other 4 to hold my own in conversations even if I couldn't win Double Jeopardy. If you look further down the list you'll see beloved children's stories as well as some books that we'd all probably forget that we had to read in school.

But the point is that we had the freedom to choose to read those books. No one should choose for us what books we can and cannot read, unless we are a child and need that kind of guidance. Teaching children what is appropriate for them is teaching them a kind of freedom to choose. This isn't about whether the books is good or not either. That's a value judgment and something that will differ from person to person. This is about whether we each have the right to go to our library or bookstore and pick up the book and take it home and read it. Let's make sure that we don't ever take that freedom for granted. Personally, I think this is very Cool Idea!


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