Next week, September 27 to October 4 is the American Library Association’s Banned Book Week. The ALA says this event “reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.”
I looked over the list of the most frequently challenged books from this century, and was surprised by some titles that made the list. It was no surprise that the Harry Potter series was there, because I’ve heard of many challenges to those books. But the Captain Underpants series? I read them all with my daughter when she was young, and they fit perfectly into the crude sense of humor so many kids have. She loved them, and I don’t think reading them has led to any long-term crass behavior on her part.
Looking at the list of most challenged books from the 20th century I was not surprised to find Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, two of my all-time favorites that do stir up controversy occasionally. But I couldn’t believe Lois Lowry’s The Giver made the list. Both of my daughters read that in their 6th grade lit classes, and then they went on a field trip to see it performed on stage. It’s a very powerful book with a message that lasts.
Celebrate your freedom to read by checking out the list of challenged books at the ALA’s website, then pick one to read. I think I’ll check out Huckleberry Finn again, and maybe read it to my daughter this time.