Tonawanda News — Editor’s note: This column originally ran for Banned Books Week on Sept. 30, 2010.
Read a banned book this week.Go ahead. I dare you. You have four more days until the end of Banned Books Week, but that’s more than enough time to start something, even if you finish it next week or next month. (Or next year. Who’s counting?)
I’m going to reread “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which holds the honor of being not only being one of the top novels of the 20th century (according to Radcliffe Publishing Course), but also one that’s frequently targeted for challenges due to its language and its accurate depiction of the racism of the time. (Because, of course, if we never talk about it, it didn’t exist. Right?)
In one New York state district (in 1980), it was called a “filthy, trashy novel.” (Which probably made that many more students determined to read it.) In 1996, another district banned it because it “conflicted with the values of the community.” (Which makes one wonder just what those values are ... or if those challenging had really read the book.)
Whatever. It’s one of my favorites, and one that I think has made generations think about their world and the people in it just a little bit differently. That’s what good books do, after all — whether they’re American classics or light entertainment, I’m a fair believer that every book leaves a little bit of itself behind.
Other friends of mine plan to re-read the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle or “1984” by George Orwell. There’s a lot to chose from. Just since 2001, the American Library Association reports that U.S. libraries have faced 4,312 challenges.
That’s a lot of reading material. A lot of ideas.