Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same


Over the past nine years, American libraries were faced with 4,312 challenges – which are attempts to ban books from the public. Why?

  • 1,413 challenges were due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,125 challenges were due to “offensive language”;
  • 897challenges were due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 514 challenges were due to “violence”
  • 344 challenges were due to “homosexuality”; and
  • Further, 109 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 269 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”

And, research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported.

Why should we care if concerned parents don’t want their kids to be able to check out and read books they don’t want them to read? Because it’s a slippery slope.

And that’s why I support Banned Books Week (BBW) – an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. I like the theme of this year’s event so much, I let it speak for itself as the title of this post: “Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same.”

You might be surprised at some of the books that have faced challenges before, including the dictionary.

The top 10 most-frequently challenged books of 2009were mostly those classified as “young adult” except for perennial list-maker “And Tango Makes Three” which is a children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo that together hatched and egg and raised a baby girl.

NEWSFLASH – some of the kids in your kid’s class will have two daddies or two mommies; and your pre-teens and teenagers will be talking about, if not having, sex whether they read these books or not. 

Banning books that discuss topics we’re uncomfortable discussing with our children is not the way to ensure our kids are raised with our values. That has to happen at home, before they ever enter a school or public library where their minds will be opened to many more radical ideas than human sexuality.

This year’s BBW runs September 25 – October 2. I encourage you to take some time this week to go read a book that someone has tried to prevent you from reading.

I’m personally going to go look for a copy of “Catcher in the Rye.” I have a sneaking suspicion it was on some required reading list of mine in high school or college, so I’m way overdue.

The New York Times also offers 10 other ways to celebrate.