Maybe it is the contrarian in me, but since I was a kid if someone told me not to read something, it made me all the more interested in reading it.
Take the romance novels of my sisters’ that my mom didn’t want me to read (I was 11 or 12 and probably too young for heaving bosoms and such) so she put them in a box and hid them in the garage. Sorry mom, I’m confessing now, I found your hiding place and I would rotate out the books when you left. Two or three unread books would go under my dresser and the ones I had finished would go back in the box.
In high school, I would seek out books that had been banned. The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace (which I read in 10th grade English because Lana Hampton was awesome), Brave New World, Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Fahrenheit 451 (yup, don’t you love the irony about someone banning or censoring a book about burning books?) are all books that I just cannot imagine not experiencing. Other kids drank and did drugs — I read banned books. Yup, that is just how I roll.
The Harry Potter books, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Streetcar Named Desire, The Color Purple, Beloved, Where the Wild Things Are, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Red Badge of Courage, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the list goes on and on.
So this week, read a banned book. Read a banned book to your kids. The growth you experience might just surprise (and delight) you.
According to the American Library Association, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been challenged or banned. So you can start here for your banned book reading pleasure. The website Banned Books Week has this list of banned books that shaped America.
And while we’re at it — how about we stop banning books? Just LAST WEEK, the school board in Randolph County, N.C., voted 5-2 to ban Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Are you kidding me? One school board member called it “a hard read,” while another said he “didn’t see any literary value” in the National Book Award-winning novel. Sheesh, good books often are hard reads — it is called thinking, people!
OK, I’m climbing down off my soapbox now. I’ll pass the microphone to anyone who wants to talk banned books. What is your favorite banned book? Or on the flip side, is there a book on these lists that you agree needed to be banned?