There’s not a whole lot I can write about banned books that hasn’t already been written this week. I’m against banning books. Like really against it. I can never in my life remember my mom telling me I couldn’t read a book. A lot of times, I would ask to read something and if she didn’t think I was ready for it or she thought it would upset me too much we’d talk about it. I can never remember not agreeing with her with her by the end of those conversations. In fact, our only really fights about books were books like Outsiders and Exodus she wanted me to read, but that I thought would be too scary.
I get that not everyone is lucky enough to have a family like me. Not all children have parents who are that involved. Not all parents have children who listen to them. But shouldn’t we all be striving for that? Banning books seems to me like working towards the lowest common denominator. It underestimates kids and it underestimates parents. If the parents who make phone trees, call teachers, and hold meetings to get books banned spent have that time talking to their kids instead, I think everyone would be in a better place. Because ultimately conversation, not censorship needs to be the focus.
There are lots of things I disagree with and things I don’t believe in, but I still think books about those things should be on the shelves of libraries. Reading Huck Finn didn’t make me start using racial slurs. Gossip Girl didn’t make me drink in high school. Fifty Shades of Grey hasn’t made me enter a BDSM relationship (yet). The assumption that teenagers (and sometimes adults) can’t be exposed to these things, without blinding following them is offensive. Not that I’m suggesting. 50 Shades be handed out in high schools!
What’s even more offensive to me is that so many of the top banned books are challenged either for being sex-positive or containing homosexuality. There are lots of books about things I don’t believe in. For example the Bible contains instances of gang rape, genocide, murder, extreme sexism, and the condonation of slavery. However, I would argue to keep the Bible on library shelves as vigilantly as I’d argue for Judy Blume.
So yeah, banning books is awful.
And I’m really grateful that there is a week where people who agree with me can come together and talk about it.