Banned Books Week, 2019

It’s Banned Books Week. I remember when this used to be a whole month, do you remember that? Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I love Banned Books Week. Why? Because I hate banning books. Here’s the thing. No one who tries to ban a book has your best interest at heart. The only reason to ban a book is to limit the reach of information and stifle education. Basically, if you want to ban a book, I think you’re a dick.

Some of the best books ever written have been banned for some of the most ridiculous reasons. Some of my favorite books. So today, I wanted to share with you my favorite books that landed on the banned book list. And I want to hear from you! What’s your favorite banned book? Let us know in the comments below!

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

So, when I start a list off of favorite books and Harry Potter is at the bottom, I hope that tells you something about what I think of the other books. The excuse given for banning Harry Potter is always that it involves witchcraft. But lots of books have witches, and no one ever puts up a fuss. In my opinion, the real sin is getting kids to read. A kid who reads is a kid who thinks. And some people just can’t have that.

Bone by Jeff Smith

Bone is one of the most creative, beautifully drawn, entertaining comic books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read it, take some time to sit down and enjoy it this week. It’s a wild ride that starts with getting lost in the woods and ends with a queen retaking her throne. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Look, I’m not one to like a classic for classic’s sake. But this book was damned entertaining. It dealt with some hard topics and emotions. And while I would say this one is a little more appropriate for teenagers than little kids, I’ll accept a not yet instead of a no.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

This one straight up upset me. I read this comic without fully realizing what it was going to entail. I was expecting a version of the Holocaust story for children and teens. Seeing as how it’s, you know, a comic book. But no, this is totally for adults. And it made me sob. And we need to never forget what happened there. Especially since, you know, Nazis are making a comeback. Do you remember when calling someone a nazi was the worst thing you could call someone online? I miss that.

Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz

Has anyone seen this movie yet? I haven’t gotten a chance to, but I am so excited. And no, I don’t think there’s a child this book is bad for. It’s creepy, sure, but that’s kind of the point. Now the artwork, man the artwork made these books!

A Light In The Attic by Shel Silverstein

There’s a light on in the attic, and it’s me still reading this book as an adult. These poems were so funny, so sweet, so creative, so universally adored. I would consider any childhood that doesn’t include these books to be a poorer one. 

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Okay, I know how this book ends. I know because I’ve read this book several times. And yes, it made me cry every single time. But here’s the thing. Kids die, and that’s about the worst thing I can imagine. But with the number of school shootings always on the rise, not to mention the hundreds of other little and large demons waiting to snatch away a child’s life, kids sometimes have to deal with the fact that their friend isn’t coming back to school, can’t come out and play, and is now gone forever. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a book or two that talked about how heart-wrenching that is? How it feels like the pain will never stop, never get any better? And then, how loss doesn’t get lighter, but we get stronger and more able to carry it? Wouldn’t it be nice if a book like that was readily available?!

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Funny story, I read this book first because it was a banned book. I fell in love with it right away. The story is rich, deep. In some ways, it’s way out of my realm of understanding and experience. In other ways, it was as though she’d taken a part of my life and lived it herself. Or, as she’s older than me, it was as though I’d taken part of her life, and lived it again without realizing who I’d taken it from. Everyone and I mean everyone should read this book. It should be in every library, every home, every school, every store. It should come free with existence and be required reading to be part of the human race.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Probably one of the best book written of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird talks about the struggles of a time most of us never lived through. That some of us would like to forget ever happened at all. As a little girl, I saw myself as Scout. I guess maybe I still do. I’m aspiring to be like Atticus, standing up for what’s right and just no matter the hell I’ve got to walk through to do it. It’s a wonderful book, and one who’s messages and morals still echo today. I cannot imagine the soul who doesn’t think everyone should read this book. (Personal note, I might be biased. I love this book so much that I named my cat Harper, after the author. I wept when Mrs. Lee died, broke down into tears right at my day job.)

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I wrote a blog post recently about how I’ve literally read The Giver 20 times since I’ve read it on my birthday every year since I was thirteen. So I don’t think I need to tell you how significant I find this book, its lesson, and its continued need in our society. Because damned if I can’t see the seeds of this sort of life starting. I can see how people, scared and hungry, would give up their rights, their freedom of choice, their life, just to live. But that sort of life, without choice, without meaning, without love, it’s not any kind of life at all.

It’s just all the sad little bits of existence that we have to do to support the wild dreamy sweet and scary things that are really, truly, living. And that’s what that book taught me. That’s why I am who I am. And that’s why that book needs to be in the hands of everybody.

Point blank, it’s never a bad investment of money to buy a book. It’s never a bad investment of time to read a book.

It is always a bad, horrible, cruel, ignorant idea to ban a book.

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