Banned Book Week-This is the short version of my thoughts & feelings on banned books with a small story from my childhood.
Books are banned for many reasons, many silly reasons.
Before I get any further, I'm completely against the banning of any sort of book.
It doesn't matter what topic it covers, how it is written, or anything.
A book is a book plain and simple.
There should be no one who tries to dictate or stop the publishing of any book.
It is up to the readers what they take away, gain, or ignore in a book. What they fall in love with, what opens their perspectives, what they outright hate, or how they react in general.
To me, it's not right to dictate someone else's reading experience.
So I'll share a story of a parent mentor who was 'looking out' for me when I was a child.
Once upon a time I was part of a girl scout's troop when I was very young. There were several parent volunteers who helped out with the group. Even at a young age, I read frequently and was notorious to have a book in hand wherever I went.
Now, usually during girl scout meetings, there was a snack time and a down time of sorts when we waited for our parents to pick us up. During that time I usually opted to read my book because I loved to read. Sometimes I went out on the playground, but mostly I preferred to read.
There was a parent mentor who was upset about my reading, during down time, and proceeded to hide my books from me until I was picked up by my parents. I treated it like a game because if I found my book, I would happily read it, but if I did not find my book, I was able to hunt around for it because it was 'lost' (although all of the parents probably knew what was going on).
Inevitably, the concerned parent mentor was concerned with a book I was reading. At the end of that meeting, the book was not returned to me.
I was pretty upset, but managed to shrug it off in the hopes that I would get it back next meeting.
I had plenty of books to read, although I wanted to finish that story, I had others I could read.
The next meeting, my book was not returned to me.
Upset, I confronted the concerned parent mentor who told me 'gently' but mostly sternly that the book I had been attempting to read was 'way too old for me'.
The book in question was Little Women by Louisa Alcott.
When I first started to read my parents had sat me down and had a talk with me of sorts on the difference between the realities of books and the real world. If I had questions, I could ask them.
They never told me what I could read or what I couldn't; I was a very accelerated reader and if I couldn't handle a book, I just stopped reading it. I had a perception of my own limits; usually if I didn't understand what the book was talking about, I gave up. Plus I had plenty of help from librarians to pick out books (I suspect they usually steered me away from the 'older' material).
I also had a bit of a temper as a kid so if someone told me I could not or should not read a book, I was going to read the whole thing to find out WHY they would tell me that. Curiosity is a good motivator.
It got a little nasty when I proceeded to refuse to participate in girl scouts until my book was returned to me.
I don't quite recall exactly how the mess ended besides my book was returned to me after the concerned parent mentor had some words with my mother when she came to pick me up. I also believe that I tried to hide when I read my books after that so no one would take them.
The irony for me is that after she returned it, I got incredibly bored with the language of the writing and stopped reading it.
What I want to say about the whole ordeal is that people should be able to read whatever they like to read. They should be allowed to experience things that might be 'scary' or 'uncomfortable' through the safe medium of a book.
I've always suspected that if someone doesn't want me to read a book, there's probably something within the book that they don't want me to find out.
OR they would be absurdly uncomfortable discussing whatever the book in question is with me.
If you're uncomfortable with the material presented in a book, fine, just don't read it.
Don't ban the book.
Don't ruin other's reading experiences.
Just don't read it if you don't want to.
Make choices for yourself, not for others.
**Note, this was supposed to be posted on 9/25/13, but I accidentally scheduled it for 10/25/13, so this is a retroactive post I suppose.