Banned Book Week is always a really important time for libraries, especially those who have a big Young Adult following. This is a week where they get to bring attention to those books that have been challenged and talk about why they are important. The title of my post may be a little misleading, as I don’t think that it’s good to ban books. I think that the process of challenging books to be banned is good. Without this process, some books would never be discovered. If a parent has a problem with a book, many times it does not have great reasoning behind it. Just the fact that parents challenge books makes librarians, educators, and other supporters work hard to fight against book banning. They also work hard to convince the public that books that are challenged do have value. This whole process can make readers think critically about books as they see them being challenged. I think, from this perspective, children and teens should be kept aware of what is happening in their community with book banning cases.
Book banning brings good publicity to books that are really important for teens to be reading. Controversial issues are often the most important, because parents may not be comfortable talking to their kids about them. Or, kids and teens may not want to bring issues up to their parents. They can find solace and comfort in books. For instance, there are many books that are challenged because they have gay characters. If parents in a school district or community are concerned because they don’t want their children to be reading about homosexuality, it’s probably an issue that needs to be addressed. Teens with homophobic parents need a place where they feel safe, and books can be a good way to have role models and nonjudgmental exploration.
Challenged book cases can also bring national attention to books that really deserve it. A book like Speak deserves to be read and known by a widespread audience. The people who challenged Speak really didn’t know what they were talking about. Some of those against it said that it was sexually explicit, but the scene where the rape is revealed is quite the opposite. It’s a very important book for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, especially for teenagers. Because the book received so many complaints from parents, it gained national attention and is very often read in classes today.
Authors also usually get a lot of support when one of their books gets challenged. Readers will write letters telling them how much their book means. Support from educators, librarians, readers, and parents is always widespread as they band together to try and fight against the challenge of the book. Walter Dean Meyers is quoted as saying, “When I write a book that is liable to be challenged it is because I have detected a change in what is advertised as the accepted norm.” This is a brilliant way of looking at it. Those who challenge books do so because they are uncomfortable with the way that things are being presented differently in them. In order to progress in society, we need adolescents to become comfortable with the changes that are happening against accepted norms in society.