As many of you know, September 22-28 is Banned Books Week: a week where readers come together and celebrate the freedom to read and express ideas.
I’m so thankful that I grew up with parents who cultivated and encouraged my love of reading from a young age, and that they never sought to limit the types of books that I read or the content within them. I certainly wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the influence of some of my favourite books, and I was surprised to see how many of the books I’ve enjoyed have been challenged or banned over the years.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Crank by Ellen Hopkins
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Peterson
I wish I could say that those are the only ones that have been banned or challenged, but that sadly isn’t the case; the rest can be found here.
If we examined the reasons that these books were banned or challenged, “the occult,” “sexually explicit material,” “material inappropriate for the age group,” “violence,” and “homosexuality” are among the most common complaints. What we must remember is that, as with anything, reading is subjective: just because one person was offended by the content in one book doesn’t mean that another person can’t enjoy it. Sure, there may be some books that are deemed inappropriate for certain age groups, but banning them is certainly not the right way to deal with this problem. Parents have a right to pay attention to the themes and topics that their children are exposed to, but that doesn’t give them the right to dictate what other children are allowed to read. Banning books not only restricts our freedom choose what we read, see, and hear, but it also restricts our imaginations – and that thought scares me.