Take a Stand for Books
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
– Harper Lee, banned book author of "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Established in 1982 by the late Judith Krug, then director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom and a tireless champion of freedom of speech, the annual Banned Books Week promotes free and open access to ideas and information. And it’s a great time for libraries to celebrate the joy of reading, shown in countless studies to be a key factor in determining one’s success in life.
A quick scan of ALA’s list of frequently challenged books reads like a Who’s Who of literary giants – F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.K. Rowling, Walt Whitman, Sherman Alexie, Toni Morrison, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Katherine Paterson. Two years ago, Arlington Public Library hosted an author talk with the legendary Judy Blume, a frequent “contributor” to the banned list, appearing five times over a ten-year period with such titles as “Forever” (7), “Blubber” (30), “Deenie” (42), “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” (60), and “Tiger Eyes” (89).
Books are change agents. They challenge our beliefs and biases. They expose us to different experiences and cultures. They help us learn to think for ourselves and not follow the crowd or cult of public opinion. They can scare us and they can charm us. They can enliven our spirits and they can cause despair. They honor equally the ordinary and the profound. They can please, they can polarize. Paper or “e,” quarto or quartz, on your phone or in your hands, reading inspires, inflames, evokes and enriches.
Want to know how you can help celebrate Banned Books Week? Commit to reading at least one challenged book (2016 10 most challenged books) (ALA list of frequently challenged books). And if you have a child at home, ask him or her to commit to reading one, too. The family that reads together, thrives together.
We promise it might hurt. And that’s a good thing.
“Let the wild rumpus start.”
– Maurice Sendak, banned book author of "Where the Wild Things Are"