I was brought up allowed to read anything and everything I wanted for which, when I look back, I was very lucky to have. My mum took me to the library every week (Monday night after school), to exchange my four library books for another four. I had books that I read and re-read – Enid Blyton to death, Watership Down, The Babysitters Club, Goosebumps – then as I got older Anne of Green Gables, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Point Horror, and Stephen King. My parents both read, although not as avidly as I did, and encouraged me greatly. My nana was a librarian for 45 years and adores reading as much as I do. Every time I go home to visit she asks what I’ve been reading, even though we both know she’s unlikely to read it herself, she wants to know where I am.
In case you’re unaware, this week is Banned Book Week. It highlights the great books of our time which have been banned in some areas of the world for various reasons. These books are usually already classics, or can become classics, famous for their storylines and plots but manage to outrage communities for their content.
Because of the freedom I had as a child, I was never aware if I read banned books. I had no limitations as far as I was aware. As I got older and bought books more regularly, I continue to have the freedom to choose what I wanted, and as I got older still and owned a Kindle, I could download anything which was available. For most of my younger life, I wasn’t even aware books could be banned. Why would anyone want to ban such incredible creations of worlds?
On this list from BannedBooksWeeks.org I have read three of them, without ever realising they had ever caused controversy. The Call of the Wild, Fahrenheit 451, and A Streetcar Named Desire. In fact, the latter was studied in school in English Literature. Knowing there are books out there which have been banned or censored in some areas of the world is enough to make me want to read them. I want to know what’s inside the covers that have caused such outrage.
Children’s booked get banned too. On Buzzfeed in 2011, there was a list compiled of popular children’s and young adult books which have been banned somewhere. From this list I’ve read seven of them, many when I was a child.
In blunt honesty, I don’t agree with banning books. I think anyone who wants to read, should be allowed to read whatever takes their fancy, especially children. At the risk of sounding old, in a generation of the Internet, video games, and smartphones, children who want to read anything should be greatly encouraged!
I understand that communities have beliefs, and that some books may go against their beliefs and this leads them to feel that said books shouldn’t be read. But who gives them the right to decide what other people should believe and read? You think Harry Potter should be banned as it is based in a magical world and therefore affiliated with evil? Okay, that’s fine, you’re entitled to that opinion of course. But the person sat next to you may not feel the same way. So why ban the book from your local library?
We are all wonderfully unique people with individual ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and desires. What works for one person won’t work for another. If everyone had everything they thought was bad banned or censored from those around them, the world would be a very simple and boring place indeed. Books, along with other things, make the world continue turning. They inspire, they create, they evolve, they connect. We would be a very different place without them.
If you’re going to read a new book this week – make it a banned book.
“A word to the unwise. Torch every book. Char every page. Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.”
– Ellen Hopkins ‘Crank and Smoke’