During the last week of September, an annual event known as “Banned Books Week” takes place all around the country. It is an event held in celebration of reserving the right to read- anything one desires.
The value of freedom and open access to information and content of all types is especially highlighted during “Banned Books Week.”
During this week, the entire book community is brought together in shared support of the freedom to seek out and also express ideas- even those that would be considered “explicit” or “inappropriate” to the non-supporters of certain types of literature.
Librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, journalists, teachers, and all types of readers unite to exercise their right and celebrate.
Regardless of whether it may be negative or positive attention, national attention is drawn to the effort that is made throughout the country to remove or restrict access to books and attention is also focused on the harms of censorship.
Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) librarian, Chris Zagar, feels it is a good thing that people are made aware of censorship and what it means, especially for what is accessible and for the future of literature.
He goes on to say, “Banning the books is not a good method for keeping people from accessing the content in general because if they want to find it, they will. No book should be banned, with the exception of anything concerned with child pornography. It’s the reader’s choice.”
With that being said, the question of whether or not specific material should be accessible to children comes into play. Whose responsibility is it to monitor what a child is reading- libraries', school districts', or the parents'?
Jennifer Hallett, a student at EMCC, says, “It’s the parents' job to have some responsibility in their children's decision, and having discussions with them is essential because not every child in every grade level is the same; one may be more mature than another.”
As bizarre as it may seem, books that have been commonly referred to as “the classics” and have been (or still are) taught in English and literature have been challenged in particular school districts and public libraries due to complaints, especially from parents, of inappropriate content such as sex, violence, and being unsuited for the age group it was intended for.
For example, "The Great Gatsby", by F. Scott Fitzgerald was challenged by the Baptist College in Charleston, S.C., in 1987 because of "language and sexual references in the book." "The Catcher in the Rye", by J.D. Salinger is also a book that has proved to be controversial for being “anti-white” and “obscene.”
Themes that are not supported by parents generally tend to be the books that are demanded to be removed from shelves and discarded. The list of books that have been targeted for removal or restrictions in libraries and schools is extensive, yet while they have been attacked, most have remained available due in part to the efforts of all that are involved in the world of books.“
Banned Books Week ” celebrates this and especially thanks those who take a stand and speak out to maintain the right to read.