About a week or two ago, I read an article that described some commonly banned books and was surprised to find quite a few classics I’ve enjoyed on the list. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was one of them, while others were Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I understand adults’ needs to protect their children’s innocence for as long as possible, but I often think it backfires. When students hear that others banned certain novels from their school library or community library, it tends to make them more curious about what the book contains. They’ll find that book somehow, somewhere, and read it anyway.
Some governments have tried to ban books and the thoughts expressed in them by having public bonfires and throwing the books onto the bonfires. In May 1933, for example, German university students and soldiers gathered at Berlin’s Opera Square to burn books containing “un-German” ideas. Some of the books were written by Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells and Ernest Hemingway. (I wonder if anybody noted the title of one of those banned books, got a copy and read it in secret, at home?)
Censorship and the reasons given for banning certain books reveal quite a bit about whoever wants the books banned in the first place. Some conservative people seek to monitor what their children see or they could be government officials wanting to control what and how their citizens think.
In the end, attempting to harness people’s thoughts is like handling water during a flood. You can try to control it but it has a way of going wherever the heck it pleases.
I don’t like to see the destruction of books. Although I may or may not personally like the book, what’s the point of having all that hard work go to waste? I don’t mind if someone recycles old books for a creative purpose such as sculptural art.
In any case, some authors popular among teens today deal with more intense life issues and that’s going to continue whenever an author’s inspired to create characters and write a novel. I just finished Rainbow Rowell’s excellent book, Eleanor & Park, where Eleanor deals with some tough issues both at school and home. (I don’t want to give away the plot.)
I can see the appeal of the book and how this book resonates with a lot of readers, young and old. I could also imagine it becoming the springboard for a meaningful discussion between adults and kids.
Sometimes I wonder if there should be a ratings system for books, but the ratings system would present difficulties at libraries and bookstores. They’d have to tell some readers that they could or could not check out/buy some books and get grief for it.
And who would review the books and set the judgment standards? Would books such as The Hunger Games trilogy and Steig Larsson’s Lizbeth Salander novels be forbidden outright or what kind of rating would they have? Since both trilogies deal with violence and other volatile issues, the character and life experiences of the people reading them could affect the impartial nature of the rating.
Blog readers, what are your thoughts on book banning? Let’s discuss.