Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, an American Library Association annual event which celebrates our right to read the books we chose free from censorship. Although many equate banning books with the past it is still something that is going on across the United States and across the world. In communities everywhere people are petitioning to ban books from public and school libraries, some towns even have a formal process through which someone can challenge a book. As someone who loves books and who grew up with the priveledge of being able to read whatever interested me, I find it sad that people would actively try to keep books out of the hands of children.

Books are an amazing thing, they can take us to far off lands and teach us about ancient cultures, they can open our minds an let imagine we are kings and queens or magicians and wizards, they can teach us lessons of the past all while preparing us for the future. By reading books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I learned about slavery and prejudice and accepting people for who they are and not going by what they look like, The Lord of the Flies tought about human nature and what might happen in the absence of law, and Harry Potter reminded us of what it was like to believe in magic, in friendship and in our own power to perservere. I love books and I can't wait to instill that same love into my children. I look forward to the day that people stop worrying about how books might damage society and realize all the things that can be learned if you keep an open mind and an open heart.
ALA: Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 26-October 3

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

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