Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Banned Books Week 2016

Happy Banned Books Week 2016! While we're halfway through the week, there's still plenty of time to celebrate by reading one of your favorite banned or challenged books. You can also read a book from 2015's most banned and challenged list, which you can find on the ALA website.

infographic by the ALA

A notable but sad trend that 2015's list illustrates is the over-representation of books about issues concerning diversity. This was also the case in 2014, when the ALA noted that 80% of the most challenged books with "diverse content." To further show this issue, the ALA even created an infographic on this:

Fittingly, this year's Banned Books Week spotlight is on banned books that feature diversity, and I hope that this brings attention to this matter. While people fear the other and the unknown, banning books is perhaps the most counterproductive way to deal with topics that seem strange and frightening. If recent events have taught us anything, it is that insulating ourselves from what is unknown doesn't protect us. Instead, it keeps us ignorant and afraid, and this leads to blind, and often unfounded, anger. Perhaps if, instead of banning books like I Am Jazz or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it would be helpful to read these texts and get a better sense of other people's perspectives and experiences. To quote Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, another book that is a regular on banned and challenged lists, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." In other words, rather than avoiding or prohibiting the things that scare us, it's important to face these issues head on and try to gain some empathy, or at least some perspective, on the thing that we fear.