banned books and brand new (to me) blogs

Hello long lost friends of mine!

I initially put my regular posting schedule on the back burner to focus on my Blogging 101 assignments, but I seem to have gotten behind in these as well. I guess that’s what a new job will do to you!

On Wednesday, we were instructed to comment on four “new to us” blogs. Now I’ll admit that while I love receiving all of your wonderful comments, I’m not so great at dishing them out! I tend to overthink why a blogger would care about my opinion on his or her thoughts until suddenly I’m deleting everything that I had and quickly heading back to the Reader or Bloglovin’.

BUT I did comment on two very interesting posts from John Garth and Ashley M. Carmichael, regarding a few of my favorite things: literature and writing, respectively. And now I have some extra thoughts about even more of these two things that are near and dear to my heart.

This past week was “Banned Books Week” in the US of A.  My Teach for America friends taught books like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in their classrooms, my literary kindred spirit read Looking for Alaska by John Green, and I read… lots of articles about banned books because my new job has an uncanny knack for sucking up all of my freetime. (Did I mention that I’m currently employed? Can you tell I still haven’t gotten over my excitement about it?)

On his blog Building My World, Gary McGath wrote a post called “Bland Books Week” in which he incorporates great thoughts (and fun facts!) about Banned Book Week and books that have been or currently are banned around the world.  However, his main focus did shine through at points, especially with his closing words:

It’s easy to champion books against yesterday’s censors when no one disagrees with you. Defending unpopular books takes more courage, and defending the freedom to print books you despise takes commitment to principle and willingness to take heat.

As it should, his post dealt with the real ideas behind the observance of Banned Books Week: free speech and its continued importance in our country.  Always the optimist, I disagreed with Gary’s sometimes flippant tone toward the week; I tend to see it as a small but important reminder that we should be grateful for the freedoms that we have.

I can remember learning about Banned Books Week in elementary school and feeling absolutely amazed that children in other places around the world had strict restrictions on what they could and could not read.  When I realized that censorship even occurred in the United States, I couldn’t believe it!  I mean, I lived a mere hour away from the woman trying to ban the Harry Potter series from libraries around the state, and ten-year-old me certainly couldn’t wrap her head around not being allowed to read about Hogwarts!

I believe that Banned Books Week has a function, particularly in our schools and libraries, for giving children their first taste of the effects that censorship can have and what our right to free speech is really all about.  While I agree with Gary’s opinion that fighting for free speech means doing more than reading a banned children’s book every September, I believe that it is important to recognize those who fought for free speech before us and the books that they considered worth the fight.

PHOTO CREDIT


Do you have a favorite banned book?  I love Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

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