Wordy Wednesday...Banned Books Week Edition
Ever since I was a youngster I've loved the power of books. Reading has always been an escape for me, like many of you, and hiding in a make-believe world has always made life that much easier to manage.
But as I became a teenager I learned about the existence of censorship. I first recall understanding how it affected me when the Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC) began putting labels on the albums I wanted to buy, making it impossible for me to buy them when I was under the age of 18.
Now, I was raised by a bra-burning, ERA supporting, Roe V. Wade-warrior mother who taught me early on to respect the first amendment and to always speak my mind for what I believed in.
Later on I became a teacher and found that some of the books I'd loved as a child were often banned in other parts of the country. What? You're not going to let high school kids read To Kill A Mockingbird? Stephen King is out? Stephen King taught me to love stories and to become fascinated by the battle humans fight between good and evil every day. I learned that schools didn't want kids learning about the horrors of war in Slaughterhouse Five and that they didn't think kids should be exposed to the realities of mental illness in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... And THEN when I started teaching English about 9 years ago they went and slapped their censorship on important books I used with my at-risk students like Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and most recently, the most powerful book I've read in a long time, The Hate U Give.
Kids learn best when they can relate to the stories. They want to be whisked away from their reality, but they also want to be seen in the books they read. Take for instance Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan or Drama by Raina Telgemeier... These stories show young LGBTQ teens that they are loved, they can be loved and they can be all the things they may have thought were out of their reach because they were "different." Kids need to be seen and to see. They need to listen and be listened to. And they need to understand the power of the written and spoken word. I teach English and I also teach Government and you can bet all of my students learn the ins and outs of the First Amendment and why it's important, why even if we don't agree with someone's opinion they have a right to share it as long as it does not cause harm to come to others. In our society today words are used as weapons and kids need to know how to protect themselves and express themselves. Reading gives them the knowledge they need to navigate the world and we need to let them forge their own path.
Your local libraries will likely have displays this week, and you might even find one that is in a bookstore. Here is a picture of the display I set up in my classroom. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and celebrate this week. You can find more information at https://bannedbooksweek.org/.
I'd love to hear some of your favorite banned books! Comment on my Instagram post, on my Facebook page post or send me a message. What are some of the books you've loved that others have told you were not appropriate for you to read?
Thank you for being a reader and for hanging out on the Rock 'n' Romance Blog today! Stay tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance!