Celebrate Banned Books Week!
It’s Banned Books Week. What does that mean?
Across the country, books are being challenged at a much higher frequency than usual. Books that mention sex, racism, gender, mental illness, profanity, abuse, drug use, and a host of other topics that small groups of adults have deemed “inappropriate” have been pulled off shelves in classrooms and libraries.
It’s true that parents and guardians should have a say in their children’s reading material. I’m a mom to three boys, I have the right to say no to certain books, movies, music, and any other media I think crosses a line. Do I have the right to say another child can’t have access to those things?
The tragic part about book censorship is the books that may not actually be challenged but never even make it to the shelves due to the culture of book banning. Books that publishers are afraid to publish because they think the book is too controversial and won’t make enough sales to be profitable. Books that librarians and educators choose to not add to their collection in order to avoid any potential challenge.
The topics that most often result in challenges are those topics that could make the difference in a kid’s mental health. Children and teens who are questioning their gender or sexuality can find information and community in the pages of a book that features a same-sex relationship or a trans character. Kids who are witnessing domestic abuse or mental illness at home might be able to better ask for help after reading about a family with similar issues. And a student who is suffering from depression and anxiety – and there are many of them, with rates rising – might feel a little less alone after encountering a character with the same feelings.
Banned Books Week is a way for libraries, bookstores, and anyone who works with kids to shine a light on titles that have been challenged. The hope is a kid, parent, guardian, educator, or someone else who simply cares might discover the perfect book for the perfect kid at the perfect moment.