Yes, it is. It is Banned Books Week 2008. You can google “Banned Books” and come up with lists that will tell you which books have been banned or challenged during any time period. Rather than repeating that information here, I’m going to list some of my favorite books that keep winding up on those lists.
Sigh. Yes. I read banned books and they become some of my favorites. I suppose it comes from having a father who was an English teacher who allowed me to pull books off his shelf and read them at will. There weren’t limits.
It was a wonderful way to grow up.
So here it is. Not all of these have been banned/challenged in the United States, but they’ve all been under the microscope SOMEWHERE. There are no numbers because I can’t possible choose a #1 favorite book. That’s an impossible task.
My Personal Favorite Banned and Challenged Books List
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
No, I’m not advocating that we have no discretion at all when we read. If you think that, then please reference my recent posting about the book Twilight. However, I do want to advocate two things.
First, don’t complain about a book if you haven’t read it. Don’t jump on a bandwagon of outrage based on what you’ve heard from someone else. Be willing to read things that may challenge you. The least it will do is allow you to have an intelligent conversation with someone about the book, even if you disagree with its contents. And who knows? You may just learn something along the way. Learning is a good thing. 🙂
Second, read to your children. Read with your children. Read for yourself and let them see you read. Talk with your children about what they are reading and let them read to you in return. Model to those in your life that reading is an important part of the daily routine. Teach them to read with discernment so they can sort out truth from lies. Fiction can teach us as much about ourselves as non-fiction can. If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself why Jesus used parables to teach us about human nature. Read, read, read and talk, talk, talk.
Now — go track down one of those lists of banned books, pick a title you haven’t read before and go for it. Maybe by this time next year, you’ll have your own personal list of favorite banned and challenged books. And if you read the Bible, you can add it to your list. It’s one of the most challenged books ever.
PS — Ready for a piece of irony? Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most frequently challenged/banned books. If you don’t understand why that’s funny then your reading assignment is to read Fahrenheit 451 and find out. 🙂