5 Reasons to Read Banned Books

Originally published September 2013

Banned Books Week.

On one hand, it makes me sad that we even have a week to recognize the impact of ignorance on the arts. On the other … wahoo! Shout it from the mountaintop, people—let’s celebrate some of the most thought-provoking words on paper.

With that in mind, here are 5 reasons you should break out a banned book and soak up all the goodness on the pages in between:

1. No one should tell you what you can or can’t read. The thought police shouldn’t be in charge of what’s on your bookshelf. Well, except maybe when you are 9 years old and your mom catches you with her copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” But trust her, it’s crap.

2. There are multiple meanings to any number of books—what did it say to you? There are as many people that think the Harry Potter series glorifies witchcraft as there are people who think it’s a re-telling of the story of Jesus. Reading banned books allows you to form your own opinion instead of having one formed for you.

3. Banned books are almost always, awesome books. Typically, bad books don’t have to be banned because no one is reading them anyway. Are you really willing to pass up an excellent read because of how someone else interpreted it?

4. Chances are, you already have. Here are just a handful of books that have been challenged somewhere at one time or another:

  • Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  • Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

5. Because believe it or not, the act of banning books still happens—a lot. In fact, I just blogged about this not long ago, when there was a move to ban two really “dangerous” reads—”The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

I’m all for parents having a say in what their children read, and respect those decisions at that most personal level. All I am saying is what is right for one person or one family may not be the right fit for another, and to ban a book takes that opportunity to choose away from someone else. Banning books is wrong. Reading books? Nothing but good there.

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