Banned Books Week

by Jimmie Lanley on September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week I always knew that freedom is highly valued among Americans. But living abroad has made it real as I see how free we truly are.

One of those freedoms is our freedom of speech which impacts reading and publishing.

Although I am a conservative Christian, I am not in favor of censorship. I’ve been on the end of censorship where access to something I want to see or read has been restricted. I cannot tell you how frustrating that is. I want to scream, “I’m a thinking adult! Let me access this.”

There are plenty of books I choose not to read; I “censor” myself.

And that’s the bottom line for me. Adults should have freedom to read what they choose.

Now as a parent and a homeschooling mom, I certainly censor what my daughter reads. That is my responsibility to protect her, a minor. But one day (quite soon) she will be able to make those decisions for herself.

For example, I’ve censored the Harry Potter books.  I don’t consider them pure evil, but more a matter of maturity. When Sprite is twelve or older, I will be fine with her reading the Harry Potter series if she chooses.  I hope that we would discuss it and that she would read it with an analytical eye, looking for where it contradicts our worldview.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she dislikes the dark tone of the novels just as I did.

I always discourage twaddle, but I think that censoring it is counter-productive. Besides, when you’ve been raised on a diet of living books, there is little appetite for junk-food books.

The most frequently challenged books are classics. Look at these lists of challenged and banned books and you’ll see how many are books you’ve either read (and loved) or want to read:

Read more about celebrating Banned Books Week which is September 25 – October 2, 2010. And here is a silly YouTube video about banned books. This is suitable for sharing with children to initiate a discussion about censorship, freedom, and personal responsibility.

What are your thoughts on censoring books? Are you teaching your children about choosing books carefully?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie September 30, 2010 at 2:44 pm

GREAT post Jimmie! I rarely agree with someone 100%, but with what you have to say here I agree 100%. The only area I would differ with is the age in which I would allow mine to read the HP books ~ I’ve told them that at 16 they can read them if they want. I have found, like you, that after reading so many good books my children have had little interest in twaddle. I censor too, out of parental responsibility, but as an American living abroad, and an Army wife, I know all too well how important our “earned” freedoms are and treasure them. As a conservative Christian, I wish more Americans would understand how destructive the abuse of those freedoms can be. A fragile, precious thing! I’ll be back to read this post with my children and hit the links you’ve provided. Thanks for a great post, a great reminder, and a great learning moment to share with my children.

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Dianna @ Sincerely Me September 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I just read an article earlier this week about “banned books week” you might be interested in.

http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/09/the-truth-about-banned-books-week/

Love your blog. :) Blessings…

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Ticia September 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Yours is the first banned book post that explained what I think, thanks for writing it.

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SoCalLynn October 1, 2010 at 3:57 am

I also agree with you 100%! Let me censor myself, but don’t tell me, what I cannot read. Thanks for putting my thought into such insightful words.

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Deedee October 1, 2010 at 4:15 am

Brilliant post Jimmie!! I found the list interesting……..Winnie the Pooh? Seriously? They are off their heads! I was surprised to find that I have read 15 books on that list and have one more on my kindle to read now! LOL! Shockingly it is one I’m about to read to my boys as we are studying ancient Greece and I’m about to read Ulysses (Charles Lamb’s Translation) to them as one of our read alouds. Perfect timing. Now we can talk about banned books and why they think this one was banned while we read it. Even more educational than I thought it would be! LOL! Thanks Jimmie for this great explanation.

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J's mom October 1, 2010 at 5:21 am

I agree about Harry Potter….I have heard that they have more mature themes as they progress. So I had an acquaintance (westerner) who told me he was reading Harry Potter to his five year old. I thought, “Wow, where do you go from there?” I am fine with the babyish books for five year olds.

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Samantha October 1, 2010 at 6:03 am

A wonderful book to read (again) in honor of banned books week is Fahrenheit 451. My daughter (13) and I had such wonderful conversations about censorship – the book is a fabulous book to really get one thinking about the issues surrounding censorship and WHO DECIDES what books should and should not be allowed to be read.

Time and again, I have shared or read books to my children that have been considered controversial by at least some, and again and again I find that we learn and have good conversations about them. For example, a book that always comes up on the “Challenged Books” lists is “The Giver.” While definitely for older children, the book is so full of fleshy food for thought. My daughter read that two years ago in 6th grade and we still talk about it today.

Samantha

Samantha

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MarshaMarshaMarsha October 1, 2010 at 6:37 am

I want my children to choose not only what is good, but what is BEST… be it what they do, watch, or read. I am completely against censorship and thankful for our freedoms here in the USA!

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Alexandra October 1, 2010 at 9:53 am

Amen, Jimmie. We censor ourselves and we nurture ourselves – our minds and souls. We’ve got an awesome country. High five, Jimmie. : )

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Sandy October 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Oh, amen! Living in the same country as you do and seeing the effect of controlled media and lack of access to truth really brings the reality of this issue home.

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Nadene October 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I agree about censoring books for our children. When our eldest child wanted to read an unfavourable book, we gave her our reasons why we banned it and agreed to let her read it when she was older. She has since read this book 2 years later and could openly discuss it. It led to some interesting debates. This is healthy.

We have also banned other books with no options. Our children respect our choices. I recently wrote some interesting questions to ask your children concerning what makes great books. Perhaps there should be a list of questions we should ask about books that we should ban?

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Dawn October 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Wow! I have read 17 of the books on that list. My oldest has read all of the Harry Potter books with his father in high school. He enjoyed them but agrees that they get darker as they go along and the lines between good and evil get a bit sloppy. However, we believe that our children should read a large selection of books when they are old enough so that they may understand what they (our children) stand for or against. It drives me crazy when people say I hate “this” or “that” and don’t even know what they are talking about. Great post!
Blessings,
Dawn

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amy in peru October 2, 2010 at 4:16 am

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head AGAIN :)
Matter of fact, strangely, I don’t have anything more to say…

:)

amy in peru

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Traci's Teaching Times October 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

This whole issue has some people not knowing where they stand. One of our local libraries had a particular book that they promoted reading with earlier in the year and Tuesday we walked in the library and there was that particular book on their banned book list. I wondered how many children they have confused this week.

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Elizabeth October 5, 2010 at 12:48 am

Hi, Jimmie. Thanks for a post that brought about a ‘living lesson’. I have a saying around here, that children learn what they live with. Because this is true, we purpose to live by The Standard-Jesus, and measure everything according to His word, teaching discernment and discretion and training them to make good choices. Yes, this means we also censor during the time they do not have the strength or wisdom to choose good, but the goal is to enable them to no longer need that level of supervision. I have some who have reached that goal, and others who have not. Today, through a chain of events, I was able to share this post with my teenage (and one past teenage) daughters, and, once again with examples you provided here, and probably slightly different language than used before, explain what we do, and why we do it the way we have chosen. So thank you. Reinfocement is good. As is intellectual interaction.

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Audrey October 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I read the list of banned books to my Hubby. His response was “I loved every single one of those books. Except for Lord of the Flies. I wish they would have banned that book when I was in school! Kill the pig!” Needless to say, given that he has always had this particular book on his “hate and will never ever ever make my child read” list, I am pretty sure that is the only book that will ever be banned in our house.

I have pretty much the same view. As adults, we should be free to read what we wish and monitor our own choices. As parents, it is our responsibility to make those choices for our children based on our own beliefs and values and what we wish for our children to learn as they grow up – just because 5 yr old Little Johnny down the street is reading a book about a gassy dog does not mean I have to allow my 9 yr old to read that particular series. Little Johnny’s parents also think that allowing him to play Mortal Combat on his PS2 is alright as well…Yet we all see the “M” for Mature rating right on the front…

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Jen October 6, 2010 at 2:20 am

I agree with you – I want my children to be exposed to a wide variety of high-quality books so they learn to choose good books, and there are books I will “censor” at certain ages simply for maturity reasons. (My ten-year-old niece is reading Twilight and I just don’t think that’s appropriate.)

I’m stopping by after seeing your reference post on Homeschool Classroom – I’m a certified media specialist and wanted to say thank you for encouraging homeschool parents to teach proper use of reference materials, it’s so important!

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