Hi, everyone. It’s Banned Books Week again: the time of year when we celebrate reading books that someone, somewhere, has said we shouldn’t.
Some of my favorite titles, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, are challenged with shocking regularity. Those are older books, of course, but they still show up regularly on someone’s list of “what no one should be allowed to read.”
The focus of this year’s Banned Books Week is Diversity. The biggest bunch of challenges in 2015 seem to come from folks who don’t believe students (or anyone) should read books with LGBTQ+ protagonists. You can see the Top 10 most challenged books at this link.
As near as I can figure, the idea seems to be that we should never let kids know that gay folks exist, let alone that they lead lives that look no different from anyone else’s. It’s a puzzle to me.
In any event, it’s not just modern literature that comes in for scrutiny by those with a view to censorship. The American Library Association has a list of classics that are frequently challenged, too. And by golly, there’s my old friend, To Kill a Mockingbird, at number four.
Unless we want to wind up living in a world like George Orwell showed us in 1984 (number nine on the banned/challenged classics list), it behooves us not to censor literature but to read and discuss it. Otherwise, we won’t know what is and isn’t real.