This was my first month creating a TBR, and I’m already straying from it because I forgot that Banned Books Week is this month. But since this week is BBW, I’m going to read a frequently banned/challenged book in honor of the occasion. I haven’t decided what I’m going to read just yet, but I’ll post about it in my Insta stories when I do.
What is Banned Books Week?
The Banned Books Week Coalition was founded in 1982 by Judith Krug in order to bring awareness to the countless books that had been banned that year. It is supported by the American Library Association (ALA), and it celebrates our freedom to read whatever we’d like. People all over the country participate in Banned Books Week in order to create awareness of how wrong and unfair censorship is.
A History of Book Banning
In 1791, the U.S. Congress adopted the First Amendment, which allows us the freedom of speech and of the press. However, in 1873, obscene literature (literature that contains offensive content and has no literary value) was stated to not be protected by the First Amendment, which theoretically means that it could be banned from the public. Books that are deemed “inappropriate” for one reason or another (usually due to profanity, racism, sexism, etc.) have been banned.
However, in 1982, a case against the Board of Education determined the fact that banned books could not be banned unless they were “pervasively vulgar,” and that banned books could not be removed from public libraries.
But book banning is still going on today, which is why I chose a modern book to read this year. I’m not saying that every single book is appropriate for every audience, nor am I saying that every book has merit. But, I don’t believe that anyone — other than an underage person’s parent — should be allowed to decide what we can read.
But Why is Censorship So Bad?
One of the most beautiful things about reading is that it opens our minds to all sorts of things that we otherwise would have no way of knowing about or no reason to even think about. When reading, we get the opportunity to experience cultures that are different from our own, we get to learn about alternate ways of life, and we learn about the history of our world. This not only allows our minds to be opened and our hearts to become more empathetic, but it also allows us to challenge what we know to be true in our current state of being. And censorship threatens all of that. So I encourage all of you to stand up and read a banned book just because you can!