What do Captain Underpants, Fifty Shades of Grey and Beloved have in common?
One commonality is I've read all of these books. Captain Underpants at the request of my kids, Fifty Shades out of curiosity and Beloved as a personal challenge. But the commonality I address here is that these three titles are in the top 10 of the frequently challenged books of 2012 (find the list here). A total of 464 books were challenged last year for various reasons.
As a parent, I reserve the right to challenge the books that my children read. A recent graphic novel that was listed as age-appropriate for my 10-year-old contained sexual references that were definitely not age-appropriate. But I don't want anyone else telling my son he can't read that book, or telling anyone else whether or not they can read that book. It is my responsibility to make that choice, and I also rely on the professionals at his school, at the library, at the bookstore to assist when I'm looking for age-appropriate reading material. No, I don't want him reading about auto-erotic asphyxiation (as I said, he was 10. He doesn't know what that is, so he asked me. And it's not really something I wanted to explain!) but that doesn't mean I want the book banned.
I can't get behind the idea of censorship; the government has no business in telling me what I should or could or can't or won't read. But it's not all government influence in these banned books, challenges to these books come from the good citizens of our country, people like you and me. But, I think maybe those who petitioned for the banning of The Kite Runner (for reasons including offensive language, religious viewpoint and sexually explicit scenes) may have missed the point of the story.
Books are important. Books that challenge our ideas, our security, our sense of right and wrong, they matter. This year, as I build my summer reading list, I'm using the books found on the American Library Association's banned books page. Then, from September 22-28, I'm going to celebrate Banned Books Week and the freedom to read.
What books are on your summer reading list? Are you planning to read any challenged books?