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Minds, books are better when open
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:00 AM
This is Banned Book Week, an observance by libraries to bring attention to the importance of sometimes controversial literature.
Information on the thousands of books that have been banned or challenged can be found at the American Library Association's website ala.org/advocacy/banned.
We believe that most of those who want books banned are sincere in their intentions, but they often miss the point and actually infringe on the rights and education of those who would otherwise have access to them.
Of 464 books challenged as reported by the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom, here are some from 2001 to 2012:
Of Mice and Men. Reason: Offensive language, racism, violence.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Reason. Offensive language.
Captain Underpants. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group.
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health. Reasons: Abortion, homosexuality, nudity, religious viewpoint, sex education, unsuited to age group
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Thirteen Reasons Why. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
Fifty Shades of Grey. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories. Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
Harry Potter. Reasons: Anti-family, ocult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence.
Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," has been a favorite target. This classic discusses the racism as well as how we judge people in a small Southern town as a black man is accused of raping a white woman in the town.
The book, however, is often banned for being "racist."
Anyone who has read the book knows that this is not the case.
More importantly, however, it is dangerous to ban a book such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" because it has racial tensions, which it definitely does. It is dangerous to ban any book because it discusses subject matter that we might be uncomfortable with.
Too often these days, children are simply shielded from things that could cause them some discomfort, such as books.
Yet, they are increasingly exposed to violence and sexualization on television, in films and on video games.
Instead of banning books, let's read them together. (Parents should of course read the books first. Even the ALA admits that the only people that should be shielding books from children are their parents, and some books are certainly not appropriate for certain age groups.)
Let's have conversations with our children about the less than pleasant things in life so that they are better able to confront them, and let's use books for what they were meant for: to bring us together and spread knowledge.
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