Working To Keep Books Un-Banned
Have you read a good banned book lately – or one that’s been challenged over the years like The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, The Lord of the Rings, or To Kill a Mockingbird?
Banned Books Week starts Sept. 28, and the focus this year is on Young Adult literature -- a category that is frequently challenged. In fact, most of last year’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books were for teens, including Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of the National Book Award.
Alexie maintains, and I believe it’s plausible, that the hard realism he portrays in his writing is objectionable to critics and protesters because they are trying to protect “privileged or seemingly privileged children” – instead of working to alleviate the violence, poverty, and social injustice that many of our youth are directly experiencing.
In 1943, the Supreme Court confirmed the First Amendment rights of minors. To suppress information or artistic expression, or a person’s ability to discover conflicting ideas and viewpoints, is antithetical to our right to free speech and stifles intellectual growth and understanding. Of course, this right does not come without responsibility. Young people need the guidance and discretion of their parents and caregivers.
Librarians, in their capacity of providing books of diverse opinions and equitable access within the constraints of the law, are often the ones confronted with challenges and attempts to ban books. We believe in your freedom to read and celebrate it.
I’m Paula Garrett, and that’s my perspective.