I thought I would change gears for a post and talk about books only instead of movies. At my high school, we had a week called Banned Book Week, and I was just reminded of it a few days ago. It ended October 3rd but I thought I’d write about it and tell you about some of my favorite books that were banned.
First off I should probably explain what Banned Book Week is just in case you’re not familiar with it. It’s an annual campaign that celebrates the freedom to read because some books have been restricted in schools and libraries for content. This week celebrates a freedom to read whatever a student wants to read, and shows why censorship on books should not be continued. Here’s the official website that has more information about this week.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a book by Sherman Alexie that I haven’t read in a few years but I still remember it well. It was one of my favorite books growing up, and now that I’m writing about it I feel like reading it again. This book is about a young boy being raised on an Indian Reservation. Instead of going to school on the Reservation he decides to go to the town school and be the only non-white student. He wants to break away from the life that he is being forced to live, and wants to make his own future what he wants. It’s based off of true events that the author experienced, and is combined with illustrations by Ellen Forney. I love a good ol’ young adult book with illustrations as one of my other favorite books is The Book Thief (check out the post I wrote about it) that also has illustrations. I just think that it’s so rare to have young adult books that have illustrations that add so well to the story. One of the things that I of course miss about my childhood is story books (who wouldn’t miss this?). So it’s refreshing to have some pictures, and also a compelling story. The illustrations are pretty funny as well…
It was banned because of its use of profanity, slurs, and sexual references. It also deals with issues involving alcohol, poverty, bullying, violence, and death. It all depends how sensitive you are to this kind of writing and content. I didn’t find it that bad but we’re all different. I would recommend checking out reading a few reviews before making the decision to purchase or read this book (I really like the Common Sense Media, it’s very helpful).
The other banned book that I read for school was The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. This book is narrated by sixteen year old troubled student Holden Caufield. It recounts the days following his expulsion from school. Holden leaves school two days early and goes to New York City. It shows his struggle against depression, and his struggle with death and the prospect of growing up.
It’s been banned in some schools because of sexual references, language, moral codes, encouragement of rebellion, drinking, smoking, lying, and promiscuity. Despite all of these things, I read this my sophomore year of high school so my class was mature enough to deal with these issues. It was pointed out as well that my classmates and I were pretty similar to the main character, Holden. At the time, we were the same age as Holden, attended a private single gendered school, and lived near New York. In fact, on days when school got especially stressful the term “pull a Holden Caufield” would often be used. Meaning lets go to New York without telling anyone and avoid all our responsibilities. None of us ever had the confidence to actually do that though, and usually just settled with pretending to be sick for the day.
I’m very glad that Banned Book Week was something that my school was able to partake in during my high school career. It showed the censorship that inflicted other schools, and it made me feel lucky that I had the opportunity to read all these books that were banned from other schools. I don’t believe that books should be censored from schools at all. It’s important for students to be exposed to all kind of reading material and stories. It should be a students choice of what they want to indulge themselves in, and students shouldn’t be told that they aren’t allowed to read.