Written by Guest Blogger: Heather Rowan
Words Have Power: Banned Books Week 2017
What does your favorite book mean to you? Maybe this book took you on a grand adventure, changed the way you see the world, or just seemed like the author knew exactly what you were going through. Now, imagine a world where you never read this book, not simply because you didn’t find it, but because it was taken off the shelf before you had the chance. Imagine what your life would be missing.
This September, as we celebrate our freedom to read (or not read) anything and everything we want, we also remember the people for whom that scenario is not a daydream. Even now, a Chicago-area library board is considering removing a children’s book due to objections over its diverse characters. Banned Books Week doesn’t simply exist to remind us of the crazy time in history when boxes of books were turned back at ports or pulled off the shelves in bookstores, but to remind us how much reading the right book at the perfect time means.
Ordinarily, the American Library Association’s Top Ten Challenged Books list contains mostly “challenged” books, which means a formal complaint was filed and a committee reviewed the suitability of a book. This year is different. Most of the books on this year’s Top 10 list lost their formal review on at least one occasion and were either removed from the library entirely or restricted to checkout with parental permission or to readers over a certain age. Half of these challenges occurred at public libraries. As usual, most of the books on the list are aimed towards children and teens, and book challenges are certainly on the rise. At the same time, this year’s top ten list is among the most diverse, both in terms of authors and characters, often making these books easy targets for book banners.
This September, let’s remember how much it means to see yourself represented in a book. Consider tweeting one of the authors of the Top Ten List to let them know how much reading their books has meant to you, or maybe check out a few of this year’s “Most Banned” and see what scared the censors so much!
Alex Gino @lxgino
Raina Telgemeier @goraina
Mariko Tamaki @marikotamaki
Varnette P. Honeywood @VPHoneywood
Rainbow Rowell @rainbowrowell
Jazz Jennings @jazzjennings__
Jessica Herthel @jessicaherthel
Shelagh McNicholas @shelaghmcn
John Green @johngreen
Jillian Tamaki @dirtbagg
Chuck Palahniuk @chuckpalahniuk
David Levithan @loversdiction
Chip Zdarsky @zdarsky