One For the Books

Picture this: you’re back in elementary school on a chilly fall morning. The year is circa 2005. It is the best day of the school year because of the Scholastic Book Fair! Everyone would buy puppy posters, obnoxious neon erasers that did not work, and other things our parents begged us not to purchase. Then of course, we would pick out our favorite books and eagerly explore the pages. Imagine if you were told you were not allowed to read those books though.

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Banned Books Week is a week during the year that celebrates and advocates the freedom to read. We are in the midst of it right now! Whether you are a teacher, student, librarian, bookseller, or general lover of books, there is something for everyone to celebrate this week.

One of the aims of Banned Books Week is to inform people about the drawbacks of strict censorship. Some people or groups want to ban books because of the content within them that may be seen as objectifying or oppressive. While everyone in America is entitled to the freedom of speech, banning books means that they will not be allowed in schools or libraries. Therefore, other people who may be interested in reading those books will not have the chance to.

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Thankfully, various teachers, librarians, and students consistently fight for the freedom to read and shed light on the subject. They believe banning books is in direct violation to the freedom of speech.

Banned Books Week has made a brand of itself. They stand for the freedom to read, encourage literary exploration, and the power of words. Their brand has created several different products in an effort support the cause and spread awareness. Banned Books Week offers t-shirts, stickers, mugs, and a variety of other merchandise to help establish and grow the brand.

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These products are meant to evoke a call to action and encourage people to speak up. Banned Books Week wants people to share their voices and hear others, despite content that may be deemed as “inappropriate.” This message is particularly appealing to Americans right now, given the tense political climate. People want to have their voice heard and Banned Books Week wants to listen!

Banned Books Week is also promoting this celebration through social media. They started a Twitter movement called, “Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament,” where users are encouraged to take selfies with a banned book or post a quote from their favorite forbidden novel.
Some of the most frequently challenged books include: The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Flies, and even the Harry Potter series. I want you to take a second and imagine what your childhood would be without Harry Potter. Let that sink in.

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The Harry Potter books happen to be one of my favorite series! Throughout the years, I have read to escape reality and transport to a different world (like Hogwarts) for a few moments. I think about the joy reading brought me.

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Imagine if your favorite book was banned. How would you feel if someone told you that you were not allowed to read it?  It would be like someone telling you that you could not watch your favorite show on Netflix. If someone told me I could not watch Stranger Things, I would look a little something like this:

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This week I encourage you to read whatever you want to! Go explore another world between the pages! What is your favorite book and how would feel if it was banned? I look forward to reading your responses in the comments!

-Morgan Adams-

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27 thoughts on “One For the Books

  1. I really appreciate the writing of this article. I didn’t even know there was such an event called “Banned Books Week” and this piece has caused me to open another tab and google banned books in America. Well done!

  2. I actually stumbled upon an article, most likely on Buzzfeed, about the banned books list for this year and I was shocked. I too am a Harry Potter fan, Slytherin Forever, so I love that reference but cannot imagine it being banned! How sad. I was unaware of “Banned Books Week” and am going to look into it more as this topic is really interesting to me. The fact that censorship on such a level is so rampant in the U.S. blows my mind sometimes. Thanks for the post!

  3. It’s funny that you bring up scholastic book fairs. I interned in children’s publishing over the summer, and let me tell you, those book fairs were important! Being in a scholastic book fair meant access to a market everyone wanted to be a part of, and it’s not just scholastic books competing for a spot on their shelves. My imprint at Macmillan had to fight to be in those fairs, and it worked out well. Our Super Happy Party Bears series always sold best at their festivals. It’s crazy how we talk about how banning books from libraries affects what kids read, but Scholastic has almost as much power. I’m not saying that I don’t love Scholastic. I got to talk to some of their interns at the Hachette summer networking event, and they were great, but it’s definitely something to think about.

  4. I think you did a fantastic job in making this so relatable , this article hit home because I also am a giant fan of harry potter books and you evoked so many dormant memories of “circa 2005″ book fair days all the while informing the reader on this entire topic of ,”Banned Books Week”.

  5. Great article, “Banned Book Week” is a great idea, that I hope continues. The fact that there are books out there that are deemed “inappropriate” for the general public. It makes you think what is in these books that upsets people so much, and how the “powers that be” decide for a whole population what is publishable or not. I think anyone should have access to any book that they please, because knowledge is power, and being prevented from getting the knowledge is only harming the people, not “saving” them from these “awful” books.

  6. When I read this article my mouth dropped and I had to keep reading. I can not believe people want to ban certain books from schools and libraries. I love Harry Potter, and I am shocked to think that some people do not want children to explore the fun in books. Yes, some books may be a tad mature from some children and parents should be able to monitor what their child reads, but to ban the books completely is astonishing. I love reading your post it was fantastic. If Harry Potter does become banned, as the Weasley brothers would say ” that’s rubbish!”

  7. I think this is an awesome thing to talk about because I grew up going to a private Christian school, where Harry Potter wasn’t even allowed to be read on the school grounds. It is good to promote reading banned books for the purpose of knowledge, history, and enjoyment, no matter the “stigma” they have.

  8. I loved this post! I had no idea this was even an ongoing issue or fight! I grew up such book worm and the thought of some of my favorites being banned from future generations is actually heartbreaking. I would expect so much more from the modern world but of course, as most things right now, it’s a mess and totally unexpected. I’m glad I read this post and learned a little bit more about this issue so I can be aware and try and fight the good fight for book advocacy and free speech.

  9. As a kid growing up in the South, many books that challenges issues on race where banned for the most part. The only book I had been allowed to read was “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee since it had been considered an American classic. This book not only opened my eyes to previous injustice but also made me more self aware of my surroundings. Lee’s book made me self aware as well as gave me the passion to fight social injustice where ever it may arise. Another book I know that has been banned in several states is “The Diary of Anne Frank”; though the book is a sad account of a young girl who died in the Holocaust. It is an important book for all to read worldwide so we learn from our war crimes and something as awful as the Holocaust does not repeat itself. The Banned Books movement is a protector of a narrative that no one wants to hear. Even though these stories are not as glamorous or funny as the other books, they are important to our society as well as our culture and must be shared to keep the message they wish to spread alive.

  10. Absolutely hit the spot on banned books. I remember growing up and either not being able to read certain books at all in school or having to stop half way because the professor didn’t agree with the material or thought it was too “much” for whatever grade we were in. Banning books does in fact block freedom of speech and also doesn’t allow students to be exposed to the cultures represented in the books being banned. Even if it doesn’t include quidditch or casting spells, there are many books that show slavery, segregation, puberty, homosexuality, or even just weird “coming of age” stories that get denied to children and teens because some higher force feels they are not ready or doesn’t want the students to really be exposed to these subjects when it is so necessary. We cannot throw away and ban these books simply because they might be too much or a higher force might not agree on the subject. If a book gets the approval to be published, it should be allowed to be read.

  11. This was a really great article. Before reading it, I did not know there was such a thing as “Banned Books Week.” I really like how you focused on the brand that they have made for the movement and I am really interested in learning more about why some books would be banned. Nicely written article and very informative!

  12. I love how you started off with a reflection of the Book Fair. This is a huge event that use to take place in almost every millennial’s childhood. It drew a connection between a fond childhood memory and the threat of taking it away. You did an awesome job with this article and I now love the “Read Banned Books” movement. Thanks for the share! (:

  13. I had no idea that there was such a thing as the “Banned Book Week” and after reading about it, I am definitely a fan. Something perceived by one person as “inappropriate” might be something that another people would like to learn about. As the person above me stated, knowledge IS power and reading about different stories and events is what creates that knowledge. What we are restricted from reading makes me think about what books I could have potentially enjoyed when I went through elementary and middle school.

  14. This is a great article and really puts things into perspective. Reading this put me back in time to elementary school book fairs. It was the most exciting time of the year and I wanted to buy and read every book on the shelves. I cannot imagine being told that I cant read what I want to. I feel as if everyone knows what they are getting themselves into when they pick up a book and read the summary on the back so if they are okay with it, they should be allowed to read it.

  15. I remember the excitement when my mom would give me a crisp $20 and would tell me to buy books not the silly fruit shaped erasers. I used to love going to the book fairs! I would browse through all the books for hours if I could. You did a great job hitting the points on this, and I was also a huge fan of Harry Potter too! My favorite was the second book!

  16. This is a great article. I used to love the book fair in elementary school, it was something I genuinely looked forward to every year. I still love to read, although most of my reading is for academics right now. I couldn’t imagine if my favorite reading material was banned – especially Harry Potter, I have read all of those books several times. Before reading this article, I had no idea that there was danger of some books being banned in the United States. I have never heard of Banned Book Week but I can definitely relate to it and understand why participating in that event might make people realize that being able to have freedom over what you read is truly invaluable.

  17. This was an awesome article!!! I had little flashbacks thinking about the book fair, where I in fact filled my bag with those puppy posters. I couldnt believe there are books out there that have been banned. Reading is an important way for children (and even adults) to learn about society, different cultures, and the world as a whole. I have read multiple books that you listed, and cannot say I was “negatively effected” by reading them in any way possible. I would be totally fine with books having “ratings”, like movies, that parents could decide for themselves if they want their child to be reading this or that book. Just a thought 🙂

  18. I approve of this movement. I feel that if you take away books because of their content then you are taking away the different points of view and experiences for children to read about. What is deemed “inappropriate” shouldn’t be decided by the schools. It is crazy to think about how schools want to marginalize the types of literature that students could read in order to force “acceptable” books to be read. This is a great movement and should get more light within school systems.

  19. I have so many fond memories of strolling through the Scholastic Book Fair and begging my mom to buy all of the books with the shiny new covers. It seems like I read a lot more for pleasure back in middle and high school, whereas now my reading mostly consists of assigned content for classes. But I can definitely say that I have acquired many favorites over the years, including the Harry Potter series. The idea of these books being placed on a ban list is absolutely absurd to me. There is nothing graphic or inappropriate in them—they were written for children! What is amazing to me is the fact that we hardly censor television at all and allow some of the most gruesome, sexual scenes to be shown, yet people get worked up over the smallest little thing in print on a page. I fully support Banned Books Week and raising awareness to help keep these books on the shelves.

  20. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. The author relates books, which have been around for ages, to the modern day “necessity” Netflix. While it was simply one sentence in the entire blog, it really stuck out to me in the fact that if someone told me I could not read my favorite book I would not be incredibly disrupted. But, if someone was to take away my ability to watch a show, my mood would be similar to the meme you posted. I also strongly agree with Banned Book Week in the sense that it brings attention to the fact that certain people actually wish to put a stop to kids reading books. Where the content on the pages may not be suitable for all ages, books are a great way for people to enhance knowledge as well as become better writers.

  21. This article really caught my attention initially because it began talking about something each one of us can agree was of great importance to us, the book fair. I am glad I read it though because often I have heard of Banned Book Week but never actually took the time to look into it to see why some books are banned or even what books are banned, in reading this article I decided to look up some books banned and to me it is crazy because I have read several books that are banned. I don’t understand the point of banning books. When you read you just gain more insightful knowledge you might not have previously had, or might not have been able to get somewhere else.

  22. Hi Morgan,
    I did not know about Banned Books Week, but I find it very interesting! It breaks my heart how much I take my freedom for granted daily with something so simple as reading my favorite book. I remember how excited I would get for the Scholastic Book Fair in elementary school, so it makes me happy to see that an organization is working to bring that excitement to children who aren’t allowed to read! I really enjoyed your article, great job!!

  23. This is a great organization. Wasnt aware of this topic unti reading this post. Not surprised it’s celebrities though, not surprised at all. The fact that they are books and if one finds the book to be “offensive” or “innapropriate….. they can simply close the book and move on with their day. Banning books could definitely narrow the minds of the youth.

  24. I had no idea about banned books. I think “Banned Book Week” is genius and an important topic at hand. The power of words on paper having the ability to be considered in this fashion is astonishing in itself. I am going to continue my research on this this and find out more about these books and go in further depth of reasons behind. Great read!

  25. I could not believe so many of the books I have loved reading are considered inappropriate. This is an excellent topic to write about, and I believe that this organization should be continued so that children have the chance to read so many classics. As a huge Harry Potter fan it saddens me to see this was a series banned by many. We should never ban the freedoms to read!

  26. As a kid, reading the Hardy Boys was definitely a memory I hold close to me regarding this topic. They made me imagine I was a teenage, James bond character which was awesome as a kid. I cant imagine not having those influences. I hope censoring any type of free thought doesn’t happen. The world is already oppressed as it is, as well as the pull for us all to think as one rather than to be individuals. Individualism is important for the soul as well as the expression of reading someone else’s thoughts in a book.

  27. Awesome blog! I love the memes and I thought it was incredibly relatable with references to Scholastics and the book fairs, as well as Harry Potter. I also had no idea about banned books, but you totally drew me into the article with you introduction of the topic with the Scholastics Book Fair (yes I was one of those kids) and your opening sentence with “Imagine this:.” Great job! Thank you for the info as well!

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