Ray Bradbury, in his classic dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 said he chose the title because that was the temperature it took for paper to burn--books to burn. The novel was written in a time where (as hard as it is to believe) people considered the best way to educate our young was to ban books. Well, guess what? It seems not a lot has changed. If you look at the titles of the books in the photo above you will be surprised to discover what some people thought was worth banning: Tom Sawyer, The Color Purple, The Catcher In The Rye. I am pretty darned sure I would not be an author if not for The Catcher In The Rye. This was the absolute first book assigned to me to read in school that I thought was speaking to me. Until Catcher... school assigned books were guaranteed to be boring, and guaranteed not to garner my attention.
This week is Banned Books Week. It's a week where we remember that Books promote thought. It's all right for you not to like a book. It's even okay for you not to want your children to read the book. But to ban books for everyone is just plain wrong. Nothing good can come of it.
Recently, Wesley Scroggins, a professor in Missouri, proclaimed that Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Kurt Vonnegut's, Slaughterhouse Five and Sarah Ockler's, A Twenty Boy Summer, should be banned from Republic schools. Click on the link to read the article. It's horrifying to think that even in this day and age people want to ban our children from thinking for themselves. As an African American who recognizes the struggles of my forefathers, I understand first hand how damning not allowing people to think for themselves can be.
If you agree with me please support Banned Books Week. You can start by visiting Speak Loudly online, and then tweeting, emailing or blogging to your followers about the value of free speech. Remember, it's only guaranteed as long as we guarantee it. If you have something to say on this subject I'd love to hear from you.