My Right to Read – Banned Books Week

by Shayna Monnens, previous Head Editor, INALJ South Dakota
previously published 9/22/13

My Right to Read – Banned Books Week

Shayna.Monnens.SDIt’s that amazing time of year again, the last week of September, in which libraries around the country celebrate their patrons’ right to read.

It doesn’t matter who you are, a librarian, a student, or someone who has visited a library in the past 50 years, you are familiar with the idea of censorship and banning books. Modern day book burning has been a topic of discussion for decades. Every week or so, there seems to be another book that is being challenged by someone out there. From 2000 to 2009, the Office for Intellectual Freedom received over 5000(!) challenges, according to the ALA.  I could sit an argue my face off for hours on how “it’s my right to choose” and “no one should be able to tell me what to read”, but as librarians (or those who just love books), we know this song and dance, and as sad as it is, it will probably never change.

Instead, I want to share my favorites among the most frequently challenged list. They are some great reads, and I do hope you agree.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

Captain Underpants series, by Dave Pilkey (surprising, the #1 challenged book for 2012)

Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

As an avid reader, I love each and every one of these books, for very different and compelling reasons. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I cannot read any of these titles, either for my own protection or preservation. Being able to choose is the greatest gift that we have , and I deeply resent any attempt to take that away from me.

As a librarian, I am no different. While I am asked for reading recommendations for differing age ranges, beliefs, and reading attributes, I will attempt to steer the patron to materials that best fit their needs. However, I will never discourage an individual from something that I feel is inappropriate for them. I don’t care if it Twilight, or 50 Shades of Grey, or Harry Potter, I just want you to read.

I hope your library has a PHENOMENAL Banned Books Week! While I have the utmost respect and fervent admiration for the libraries that create huge displays, do book shout outs, hold discussions, and celebrate the heck out of Banned Book Week, we do things a bit differently where I work. We don’t have the banners. We don’t have guest speakers. We don’t even do a display. We just continue to quietly carry on with our regular library duties, encouraging those in our community to read. I like to think of us a bit like ninja librarians. Complete the mission without making a sound. Maybe that is something to celebrate as well.


republished from 8/30/13

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