Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Banned Books Week
Ask a group of writers how they feel about banning books and you are going to get a quick answer. Book banning is bad. It is wrong. It should be forbidden! And that’s no big surprise since book banning is censorship which writers, not surprisingly, are against.
This week is Banned Books Week. For those of you who haven’t taken part in a Banned Books Week event, it is a celebration of the Freedom to Read. It is organized by a coalition of organizations ranging from The American Library Association, The Authors Guild, and the Index on Censorship. During this week, librarians, teachers and authors work to raise awareness about the dangers of book banning as well as awareness of what types of books get banned. They range from silly books like Captain Underpants to serious fiction like To Kill a Mockingbird. You can see the video about the most banned books of 2017 here.
One of the books that you’ll see there is one that I’ve written about in the past because I adored this book when I read it – Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The book tends to get banned because the young male characters are young males. They swear. They discuss sex even though they are 99% clueless. Teachers have loved the book because it is an accurate depiction of life for modern first nation people.
But there are discussions, as seen in Shelf Awareness for Readers, about removing this book from classrooms, libraries and bookstores. Long story short, harassment allegations were made against Alexie this summer.
On one hand, some people say that we should disassociate the art from the artist. Young readers should have access to books that speak to them. They need to see characters who are different from themselves. Banning books is bad. Banning any books for any reason is a slippery slope.
On the other hand, people say that continuing to print, sell and buy the book is the same as making excuses for a predator and devaluing the victim. These books should not be available. They never use the word banning, but if you aren't going to shelve, check out, or sell a book, I'm not sure what else to call it.
Personally it seems like a no win situation, the sort of thing you'd explore in a novel.
To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey. Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins November 12th, 2018.