Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week

With all the controversy over Ellen Hopkins being asked to NOT participate in Texas' Teen Lit Festival and an idiot professor in Missouri calling to censor Speak, Twenty Boy Summer, and Slaughterhouse Five, this year's Banned Book Week has been brought right to the forefront in American consciousness. This is fantastic!

I work in a medium sized urban library that serves a very diverse population. Every year, I put up a book display about Banned Books Week. This year, I was super pleased when I had a school visit (three classes from our high school) on Tuesday morning and as I was explaining the different displays in the Teen Room someone asked what a "banned book" was...

I took my time explaining how some people think that others should not be able to read whatever they want and that we, as public libraries, choose to celebrate reader's choice. That we actually pull out all of these books to say that, "Yes, we do own this book, and YES, you can check it out!!"

The kids were really surprised when I pulled out some of the books from the display and started explaining why they had been challenged or banned in different places. Gossip Girl? Harry Potter? Twilight? What do you mean that people can't read those?

It was a great moment. A whole group of teens thinking about being told, "No, you can't read that because it's not appropriate for you." It made me smile to watch their faces grow from confused to aggravated to reluctant smiles when they realized that, they could take them if they wanted.

I could go on and on about the different banned books that I've read and enjoyed, but I think there are so many authors, bloggers, and librarians that have already done so, and better than I could, this week, that I'd rather just leave you with this "success story" from my library. It certainly made me smile, and I thought brought home, for me, at least, the real importance of Banned Books Week...spreading the word!