Book Reviews

Banned Books Week

This is officially my “YA on Saturday” post. I’m posting it early to celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 26th-Oct. 3rd), and because I’ll be busy all weekend.

Many blogs and websites are supporting Banned Books Week. ALA celebrates our freedom to read. And thank you to all the librarians who save as many books from banning as possible.

Laurie Halse Anderson has written very detailed blog posts about the banning attempts on her books (and others), and what you can do to help.

Watch John Green’s vlog about his book, LOOKING FOR ALASKA. He says that teenagers can read critically, and to claim otherwise is condescending.

The Kids’ Right to Read project interviewed Chris Crutcher, one of the most challenged authors of all time.

Nathan Bransford opened a discussion about parental discretion vs. censorship. He asks, “Should public libraries stock everything and let patrons decide what is inappropriate? What about books that, say, incite prejudice or that the majority of a community feels is inappropriate for children?” Bransford also wonders how effective censorship is now that any book is readily available via Internet.

These links are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve read the POVs of many adults … but I’d like to hear more from teenagers (adults can chime in as well!).

Do you agree with John Green, that teenagers can read critically and avoid negative influences from books? Do you feel like adults are condescending to you?  Or do you appreciate their concerns for your well-being? How does it make you feel when adults want to ban books on behalf of teenagers? Do realistic books with tough issues hurt or help you?

We are blessed with freedom of speech in this country. And I think we all know that if a teenager really wanted a book, he or she would find a way to get it. Does any good come from banning books? My curious mind wants to know. At the moment, I can’t see past the angst and prejudice.

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4 thoughts on “Banned Books Week

  1. Although I appreciate adult’s concern for we teenagers, I think it isn’t up to them to decide what we read. Most of them had the choice when they were younger, so why deprive us of the choice of what to read. Many of the books that they ban have a wealth of good advice that overlook the thing that adults object to. The books often advice us to avoid doing the thing that the character does. Adults are very condescending to us, I think. Half the stuff they might have done as teenagers might be worse than the things that characters do. I don’t like when people try to take these works of art from us. They tried to ban Deathly Hallows and Just Listen, for Pete’s sake. I really hate banning books…
    I gotta go.
    XOXO
    Sav

    • I was hoping you would comment! I can always count on you and Vicki for teenager opinions. 😀

      “The books often advise us to avoid doing the thing the character does.” This is a very good point, and similar to what John Green said in his video. The character has to mess up so we can see the consequences, and hopefully the reader learns from the character’s mistakes. If the books were happy-go-lucky with no problems or controversial issues, how realistic is that?? Plus, those books would be no help whatsoever to a teenager who is struggling with real-life problems.

      Thank you SO much for your thoughts! Love you!!

      Erin

  2. I’m against banning and for parents monitoring and talking to kids about what to read (and why some stuff might not be appropriate for their age/maturity level). There are definitely some topics/themes that I think would be too mature for kids and perhaps even teens to read, even those with some critical reading skills (which hopefully continue to grow as we grow older too — I don’t disagree that teenagers have critical reading skills, but with life experience and all, I think the awareness of the world around us changes from 12 to 17 to 25 and on; a book I read when I was 15 is probably not going to read the same way to me now).

    I think banning is done out of and to preserve ignorance – to me, it’s along the lines of abstinence only education, with the idea that no or less education and knowledge means a more innocent life or something – and I always think it’s better to be over-educated than under. (A little learning is a dangerous thing.) Plus, I’d say there’s a difference (and range of actions/beliefs) between a parent being involved in this aspect of their children’s lives (reading to them, recommending books, talking about books, etc) and trying to control what they read (or discouraging reading all together).

    • Ideally, parents would be involved (via reading, recommending, talking about, etc) with the books their children read. Certainly easy to manage when reading picture books to my four-year-old. But I’ve heard from parents of teenagers, especially those who have multiple kids, that it’s almost impossible to read all the books their kids read—not enough time in the day. I guess they could still read the jacket cover and try discussing the book’s premise, but that won’t reveal the book’s nitty gritty details. Or a parent could talk to a librarian about the appropriateness of the book. I’ve even known parents to email the author of the book and ask those type of questions. But there’s a fine line between involvement and control, as you mentioned. Chris Crutcher said that if a parent “bans” a book because of a particular issue, and then the teenager has that same issue, the teenager won’t take the problem to the parent. So all those “good intentions” went right down the drain. Kids have to be able to talk to their parents.

      When I was a teenager, I know I read some things beyond my maturity level (Stephen King in 8th grade, for example). I remember feeling mild shock at some of King’s scenes, but it’s not like I went out and tried anything from those scenes! Some people think books will incite kids to drink, try drugs, have sex, etc etc. I don’t remember having any such reaction from reading. If anything, books warned me of the bad side effects! Was I less innocent for having read about it? I’m not sure about that … but like you said, over-educated is usually better than under. Better to read than do.

      Thanks for your comment!! 🙂

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