I have an affiliate relationship with Bookshop.org and Malaprop's Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site. Read more on my affiliate page.
Today wraps up Banned Books Week. I have to admit that I was a little stumped for something to write. I feel like I’ve said everything I wanted to say with my opinion piece last week. I didn’t want to post more reviews. Staring at my computer screen and the cursor blinking insistently back at me from an empty text box, I remembered that my 12-year-old cousin had contacted me about that post. She agreed with it wholeheartedly. (Thanks again, Em!) Anyway, I thought she might want to have her own say about the banning of books. So often the innocence of the children is used as an excuse for book banning, I thought one of those
children pre-teens (Where does the time go?) might welcome the chance to speak for herself. And then I thought her mom might want to say something too. I asked them and they very graciously agreed to save my skin write a little something for us. So, please welcome Emily and Donna to my blog! I love what they had to say!
12-Year-Old Emily’s Post:
At school we’ve been going to the library to study banned books week and some of the books that had been challenged from our library, and there was at least 50 of them. At least half of them I had either heard of or read, and most of them were very good books. I don’t get why people want to ban books, but I know it’s just because they’re afraid. Afraid to go out and explore the world and find out what’s really there- including death. They’re fooling themselves by saying “oh, the world is just rainbows and blue sky all the time. Why would I want to read a book where somebody dies? Why would anyone? In fact, nobody should be able to if I don’t want to read it.” The fact is, some people don’t realize that everybody’s different. Sensible people don’t want to try to ban books where somebody dies because it teaches you lessons and awakens you from that daze you were in when you were thinking the world is just rainbows and blue sky all the time. People should be able to make their own decisions, and we have the right to read anything we want- this is America. Isn’t that what we’re known for? Other countries might see that some people are banning books over here, and think “why don’t they just be grateful for all the books they have and don’t be picky?” It’s not like every country has access to all the books that they want. When they’re able to get their hands on a book, they read it whether they like it or not.
When I was in 5th grade, all the girls were reading the Twilight series. I figured why not, they must be good- everybody likes them. But when I started reading it, I could have fallen asleep. WAY too lovey dovey for me. I mean she fainted every time she saw him! But that’s just my opinion. Other people like it, which is why it’s not fair for it to ever be challenged (not that it has been before). The cool thing is that Mom let me decide for myself if I liked it or not, even though she couldn’t stand it any more than I could. That should prove that everyone is capable of making their own decisions instead of letting other people say that no one should be able to read a certain book. It’s not like it makes you a bad person if you’re reading any challenged books. For example, some people jump to the stupidest conclusions if you tell them you like Harry Potter. “I didn’t know you weren’t a Christian” is the worst one. Whenever someone tells me that, I absolutely lose it. Harry Potter is my favorite series, and nobody can tell me that I’m a bad person just because of it. I will never let anybody tell me what I can or can’t read in my life- I’m sure of that.
Mom (Donna)’s Post (SPOILERS FOR BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA):
I work at an elementary school as a reading instructor. I took just a quick glance at the “challenged” books list and saw books that are some of the most popular titles in our school library. An alarmingly low number of young boys want to read “just for the fun of it” and some people want to ban Captain Underpants? Second grade students (boys and girls alike) beg me to bring in Junie B. Jones books for our reading groups yet some people want to ban that series? I see kids so excited about reading Harry Potter that they go straight from one book to the next one in the series, yet some people want to ban them? If kids are excited about what they’re reading and it’s age appropriate, we should be jumping for joy – not trying to take the book out of their hands.
About three years ago I read Bridge to Terabithia out loud to both my daughters. There are several issues for which it’s been challenged, none of which I feel are justified. And that book affected my girls in many ways. They created their own “Terabithia” world in the woods near our house where they spend hours playing, using their imagination and creating colorful characters. And last week, out of the blue, my youngest daughter mentions the book and wants to know (again) why Leslie had to die. So we had a truly moving discussion about how life isn’t always “happily ever after” and how, tragic as it was, Leslie’s death opened up opportunities for Jess and his family to grow closer to each other. How bad things happening to us can actually make us a better person. A heavy discussion for a kid? Sure. Will she remember that book and how she was able to talk to Mom about it? Absolutely. And that’s what many of the books on the “challenged” list do – they make you have deep discussions and ask “why” and think and ponder and wonder “what if.” Thinking can’t be a bad thing…can it?