I had a great time last night at a Banned Books Celebration hosted by Cellar Door Books. I wish more of my friends could have been there. (Thanks for coming with me, Mom.)
Only one other person accepted Cellar Door's challenge to write a short essay (only a page) explaining why books, or a particular book, shouldn't be banned. I was happy to see that the second writer was a high school student. My own students did not take the challenge when I shared it with them, so I answered the challenge on their behalf.
We both had the opportunity to share our short essays. She wrote a very informed and throughtful response about the need to respect every individual's story/experience. Many books have been banned, or challenged, because they dealt with situations that made people uncomfortable. This bright, young teenager argued that individuals need to respect stories that depict other's experiences, even if those experiences are difficult to read about.
In appreciation of our efforts, we both received a free copy of one of the banned books. Thank you Cellar Door. I choose Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
I choose this book because over the summer, when I attended SCBWI's Summer Conference, I had to opportunity to hear a keynote presentation by Judy Blume. During her presentation, Mrs. Blume said the writing changed her life. She even went so far as to say that writing saved her live.
I have to agree with that sentiment. In many ways writing brought me back to life. It challenged and shaped my identity, and opened doors I would never have even considered looking for, let alone walking through.
For that reason, even though I don't agree with every book out there, I do not believe in banning books. I won't lie, there are a few that I would consider banning, and their are many that I would not let children read. However, because of my respect for the writing process I do not agree with banning books.
It is up to us, as individuals, and as parents/guardians, to carefuly consider what books we choose to bring into our homes.
Happy Banned Books Week and happy reading.