I am an avid reader and outspoken writer. Books have been my constant companions throughout my life. I have more books than any other item in my house. I have books in every room. My father used to refer to the bathroom as ‘the library,’ since he would bring reading material in whilst in the loo.
Books are a doorway into worlds of wonder. They encourage love of language and creativity. They provide the reader with an opportunity to develop critical thinking. They are meant to shake us up and wake us up.
Enter the banning of books that offend, truth tell and otherwise encourage questioning of authority. Have we not learned our lesson following the Holocaust
that book banning and book burning were part of the Nazi propaganda machine? Many decades later, school districts and politicians are taking a page from their book with telling people what they should or should not be reading, based on an ever changing series of rationale. Mostly, it is about control. It is about maintaining the illusion that white, Christian, heterosexual, cis-gender American males are superior to any one who does not fit into those demographics.
The call to ban books that ‘make people uncomfortable,’ flies in the face of the importance of expanding the minds of the readers.
As I perused this recent list
, I was delighted to know that I have read many of them and my then tween aged son reveled in a kids’ series called Captain Underpants. And more
. And sadly, still more.
Although I’ve not read the banned book, I recently watch the movie version of The Giver.
It seems to me to be about what it means to be human with all of its messy emotions, rather than the orderly world with a dystopic underbelly that the story offers.
One of my all time favorite books is A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle which was about time travel, mysticism, questioning of religion and conformity. While she was still alive, she was an outspoken protester
of the banning of books and censorship. Another pivotal book in my young adulthood that was banned is Stranger In A Strange Land
by Robert Heinlein. He tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a.k.a. The Man From Mars. It has the themes of sexuality and pantheism that shook people’s foundational beliefs.
The only upside of book banning is that it increases curiosity, which increases readership, which, often, catapults the book to Best Seller status.
Books banned means lessons not learned. Lessons not learned means history hidden. History hidden means tragedy repeated.
Books embraced means wisdom gained. Wisdom gained means a new generation who can reverse the course this world is taking.
In my community which has been hit hard by school board policies dictating what children should and should not be reading, there will be two events that call attention to mark Banned Book Week 2022.