This week is Banned Book Week, sponsored by The American Library Association along with the Library of Congress, the National Council of Teachers of English, and almost a dozen other organizations. The event is designed both to raise awareness of continued censorship threats and celebrate the contributions to history, literature and culture made by many books that people frequently try to ban.
The top ten most frequently challenged books in 2013 include many aimed at students, including Captain Underpants (by Dav Pilkey), The Hunger Games (by Suzanne Collins), Looking for Alaska (by John Green), and the Perks of Being a Wallflower (by Stephen Chbosky).
We have seen books challenged in our own district in the last few years, so this is neither an idle nor distant issue. There are those who have tried to ban some of my children's favorite books, including the Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And books that were formative in my own education, including A Bridge to Terabithia, A Catcher in the Rye, and Fahrenheit 451, have been favorites of censors for many years.
A hallmark of a healthy democracy-- and of a vibrant community-- is tolerance for a wide range of viewpoints, including viewpoints about which there might be strong disagreement. To me, Banned Book Week is a celebration of the importance of the First Amendment to our democracy and the ways in which reading and engaging with a range of ideas can enrich our lives.
Let's Play Books, the only independent bookstore in our district, is participating in Banned Book Week. Go visit them in the Emmaus triangle. You can also visit the official Banned Book Week website to find a variety of local events, online quizzes, social media badges, and other ways you can get involved.
But most importantly, enjoy a good book this week!