Friday, September 20, 2013

Banned Books Week & Why We Should Still Care

From Sept. 22 to 28, libraries and schools across the country will recognize Banned Books Week.

It's a chance for us to remind you about all the genre-shattering, society-challenging books that have been banned or challenged. (Lest you think we're indulging in hyperbole, look at this list. To Kill a Mockingbird, Color Purple, Animal Farm, even Lord of the Rings and many other classics have all been banned somewhere.)

And you might say: But that was a long time ago. We don't still do stuff like that today?

Wrong. Just earlier this week, a school board voted to ban Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man from its school libraries. One board member claimed he voted against the book because he saw "no literary merit" in it.

Now, Banned Books Week isn't about telling you what you should read. This school board member is entitled to his literary opinions.

Banned Books Weeks is about giving people the freedom to read what they want. And, while one person might not see the value of Invisible Man, plenty of others do. (It was ranked 24th in Radcliffe Publishing Course's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century.)

Furthermore, Banned Books Week is ultimately about having the freedom to read.

There's a reason we chose "Bradbury" as the password in our Banned Books video.

Ray Bradbury said, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

And there lies the rub.

It doesn't matter if no books are ever banned or challenged again. That is, it doesn't matter if nobody reads them anyhow.

So commemorate Banned Books Week in the best possible way: Read.

Read a book that's been banned or challenged. Read whatever you like.

But read. And decide for yourself what does or doesn't have merit.
For more information on banned or challenged books, visit Mentor Public Library or

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