Banned Books and Celebrating the Freedom to Read

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, when the American Library Association calls attention to books over the years that have been banned from libraries, schools and other places. The most challenged books of 2011 include two of my favorites, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Often when books are challenged it’s because adults don’t think children, usually teens, should read them. I believe teens will often find ways to read books their parents and other adults don’t want them to read. There’s a huge allure in the taboo. But parents also have incredible power in choosing to read something they may object to along with their child, then talking about the issues that come up. Many of these same issues arise in real life, so parents have a chance to talk about their own values and prepare their teens for what they may face after they leave home.

Even if you’re not in a book club with your child, you can still choose to read the same books they do. Conversation, like talking about the latest episode in a TV series or a movie you see together, naturally follows.

To see more challenged books, watch this creative video produced by Arizona bookstore Bookman’s. Maybe it will even inspire you to choose one of the featured titles to read with your child.

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