That's one of the theme's of this year's Banned Book Week, a week when we celebrate our freedom to choose what we read.
When books are banned choice is taken away and what may offend someone may move another. Just ask Zu Vincent and Kristen Tubb.
Zu: "When The Catcher in the Rye was assigned to us in high school, I was already a voracious reader so far past the mere size of Salinger’s book that its slimness looked subversive. Not to mention the vaguely controversial English teacher who introduced it.
I thought I’d fall for Holden Caulfield, and I was surprised when I didn’t.
In fact, as a kid used to holding down jobs I found Caulfield annoying the way he slouched around whining about existence while others took care of him.
Who I fell in love with was J.D. Salinger. Here was a writer willing to tell the truth. He didn’t care if he pleased you or not. He just opened up his gut and sang.
The Catcher in the Rye taught me that truth is not so far off you can’t get it on the page. Like Caulfield himself tells us,
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
Kristen: "I had a blessed childhood. The only death I knew belonged to far-away grandparents. Even my cat 'ran away.' Yes, I was sheltered. But no less curious about death. When I stumbled across Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, it was my first 'real' experience with death. Those characters – Jess and Leslie – were so real to me, I mourned Leslie’s death like I would the death of a dear friend. This book showed me not only how powerful books could be, but also how powerful my own emotions could be. To that point, I’d never felt anything as sorrowful as the loss of Leslie.
When I read that this book is often challenged by parents who believe that death is not a suitable topic for a children’s book, I am amazed at how parents could deny their children those same feelings. Because while I was profoundly sad at losing Leslie, I learned from Jess that love continues even after death. I learned that honoring those we’ve lost with happy memories helps us heal. I learned there is hope – if Jess could recover, so could I.
To this day, no other book has affected me as profoundly as Bridge to Terabithia."
The ten most challenged books of 2007 were:
1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3. “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language
4. “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
5. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
6. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
7. “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit
9. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
10. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
Have you read a banned book today?