Read a banned book

5

“The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger.

“The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.

“The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain.

“Beloved,” by Toni Morrison.

“1984,” by George Orwell.

“Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck.

“The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway.

“Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell.

“The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien.

What do all of these books have in common?

They aren’t all just great books. They are all on the list of “Banned and Challenged Classics.” For many of us, it was a rite of passage to read these classics in high school English class.

We find it somewhat unbelievable that restrictions of freedom would exist in the world as we know it today, but they do.

Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) records attempts by individuals and groups to have books removed from library shelves and from classrooms. More than 11,300 books have been challenged or banned since 1982.

According to the OIF, “A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries and one in four are to material in public libraries. OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.”

Why would someone want to ban books? Many works are banned for what are deemed “sexually explicit” materials, “offensive language” or things that are otherwise considered “obscene.”

If you are worried about profanity and sexual situations, you need to disconnect the TV and turn off the radio. You need to take your kid off the school bus. Whatever you do, don’t turn on your computer. You will even find sex and profanity in the Bible.

Banning books is not the answer. Attempting to remove materials from public use restricts the access of others.

Banning books is unacceptable censorship. Censorship denies us our freedom to choose and think for ourselves.

Freedom of speech is meaningless without the freedom to listen, or in this instance, the freedom to read.

The most challenged or restricted reading materials have been books for children. Parents know what is best for their children, and it should be up to them to decide what their children read.

Each fall, the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week, which celebrates challenged and controversial works of literature.

According to the OIF, “This year’s observance (of Banned Books Week) commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society — the freedom to read freely — and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted.”

The Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library encourages everyone to join them in celebrating Banned Books Week Sept. 21-27. According to SUN “Library News” columnist Carole Howard, “We agree with the position of the American Library Association, which supports the freedom of everyone to express all opinions and opposes any ban on books based on the objection of a person or group, thus restricting the access of others.” The library will have a special Banned Books display for viewing next week.

While not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view.

Celebrate your freedom by reading an old favorite or a new banned book this week.

Terri Lynn Oldham House