Happy Banned Books Week! From September 21st – 27th, libraries, authors, teachers, professors, and schools will honor works of literature that have been banned or challenged in a celebration of freedom of expression. Banned Books Week’s message of tolerance seems particularly poignant this year, given the conflicts currently raging in other parts of the world.
One of the best ways to celebrate Banned Books Week is to read the controversial books. There are plenty of picture books to read aloud to the youngest children, and numerous chapter books and young adult novels have been challenged as well. Visit the American Library Association’s page of Frequently Challenged Books for lists of titles.
Those who are really passionate about freedom of expression can take this a step further. Ask your local library or your child’s school if they’ll help you organize a banned book read-out. These events typically feature people from the community reading passages from literature deemed too controversial to be distributed. Too busy? Enjoy banned book read-outs from the comfort of your home by visiting YouTube’s Banned Books Week channel . There’s even a page of celebrity read-outs, where you can watch actors and authors read some of their favorite banned literature. One of our favorites is this video of Whoopi Goldberg reading Shel Silverstein.
And remember that nothing tantalizes like the forbidden, so lists of banned books may be just the thing to motivate reluctant readers! Talk to all young people, bookworms and bibliophobes alike, about the banned books they read. Ask them why they think the book was challenged and whether they agree with its critics. Ask them whether all books should be available to everyone or whether there should be restrictions. Challenge them to list the pros and cons of an unrestricted exchange of ideas. Don’t be afraid to pose questions without easy answers; these conversations are the kind of rich ones that stimulate young people’s critical thinking skills and give them practice structuring arguments.
Happy, free reading, everyone!