What do Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and George Orwell’s 1984 have in common? If you answered “they’re all banned books,” you win. Or maybe we all lose.
I read those three books when I was in elementary school and junior high — along with a good number of other books that have made it on to someone’s “naughty list.” I didn’t read them because they were “banned.” I read them because they made me think. Banned Books Week, Sept. 18-24, puts a light on the vast numbers of books that have been banned because of crude language, references to witchcraft, racial stereotypes, violence and a myriad of other violations that have made someone uncomfortable.
At a time when more and more books are being challenged or outright banned, the American Library Association writes: The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.
Books open worlds to readers young and old. Books are time machines. Books show us how other people live, learn and think. And that’s a good thing. Books Unite Us.
What are you reading?