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Banned Book Week and the Freedom to Read

Once a year, libraries and other book lovers celebrate Banned Book Week. This is the time to remind us of the dangers of censorship, and honor the freedom to read. For more information about the week, check out http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek or http://www.bannedbooksweek.org.

 

Of course there are limits to this freedom–I wouldn’t hand Lolita to a second grader. But by and large, our society lets people read books of their choice. Whether it’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, we can learn from books that others object to or misunderstand.

 

In our world today, some governments ban books for political and/or religious reasons, and that restricts their people in what they can read and discuss. In a closed society, there is only one sanctioned point of view and disagreeing can land you in jail–or worse. I am thankful that the United States allows us the freedom to read any book, not just what one group deems acceptable.

 

We have intellectual freedom. Perhaps we are a more diverse country because we can read a variety of books and websites, and that gives us more ideas to ponder and discuss. Some might say it leads to more arguments when we read dissimilar things and don’t have as much in common. But either way, it’s our choice and no Big Brother is telling us what to think. We have the option to pick up an unfamiliar author (or an old classic) and see the world through new eyes. To me, that’s worth a few arguments now and then, to have that right.

 

So, go read a book you want to read, regardless of what others think of it. Exercise your rights. And be grateful we live in a society where we can disagree in a civil manner, without giving up our right to think for ourselves.

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I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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