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September 25, 2013

Teen Board: Banned Books Week

By Kate F.

This week (September 22-28th) is Banned Books Week in the US! For those of you wondering what Banned Books Week is, it’s a week to celebrate the freedom to read. This week was created because of the multitude of book banning in children’s, young adult, and adult novels. Yes, this week was launched in the 1980s, but don’t let the date fool you. Books are still being banned today. Most recently, ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell was banned just last week, when school librarians put this novel on a reading list. The parents at this school were outraged, calling ELEANOR AND PARK “dangerously obscene.” While it is true ELEANOR AND PARK has foul language, as a high school student, you will hear at least some foul language every day! As a teenager who has read and loved this novel, I believe this is wrong, and I am not alone. If you are a parent and don’t want your child reading books that have foul language, alcohol use, etc. then talk to them about it instead of banning this novel for other readers who may enjoy and learn from the novel.

Although ELEANOR AND PARK was one of the more recent book bannings, there are many novels that have been banned throughout American history. A few of these novels are THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FIN, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE GREAT GATSBY, and even the classic children’s book WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. These books had a huge impact on America and the lives of the people living in it. Yet they were still banned, mainly for actions that the average person will see, hear, or do in their teenage years alone. Additionally, none of these books are solely based on these “obscene” deeds. What is far more important about all these books are the messages they convey, not the minor details that upset people so easily.

I asked my friend for her opinion on Banned Books Week and banning books in general. Here is her opinion:

            “… banned book week is a pretty cool idea. There have been books that have been banned…for such dumb reasons, and really parents should control what their kids read, but nobody should be able to tell what other kids or groups of people should not read. Some of these books teach life lessons and are really important to America, and it isn't fair for someone to take them away because they think it is wrong.”

Banned Books Week celebrates our freedom to read, but it also encourages anyone who is able to pick up and read a banned book. This week pick up a banned book that sounds interesting to you! My own recommendation would be ELEANOR AND PARK. You’ve heard my opinion and my friend’s opinion on banning books, but what’s yours? Also, visit www.bannedbookweek.org for more information about this week and to learn more about banned novels.