This week is Banned Book Week. Didn't know it existed? Neither did I until I read about it in someone's signature on a wedding forum. Yup. A wedding forum.
It got me investigating the situation since I honestly believed that we lived in a Canada (and a North America) that wouldn't really go for banning books. Ok, sure, there was that Satanic Verses hiccup and all, but really? Banned Books? In 2010? No!
Granted, most of these bannings and challenges have come in school libraries and required reading lists. I can get behind that. Clearly there are some books that don't belong in schools. Letters to Penthouse, for one. And there are clearly books that do belong. Things like Harry Potter. Of course, then I learned that Harry has been challenged previously because of witchcraft.
Click here for more information on banned/challenged books in Canada
I'll agree that there is a gray area when it comes to what children should be reading. It isn't all Winnie the Pooh (which has been challenged in the past) and Letters to Penthouse. But once you hit that gray area, I think it's the responsibility of parents to talk to their children, determine for themselves what their children can and should read and leave it up to other parents to determine what their children can and should read.
I'm a little afraid of a world where we can't imagine wizards and witches. I've read the first six Harry Potter books and found them to be fascinating. While part of me wishes that I could pick up a wand and make mops and buckets do my work for me (a la Disney's Fantasia), I'm aware that I can't. Just as I've always been aware that I'm not Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel or Belle.
And while it's great to dream and imagine, it's also good to know about life that isn't so pleasant. Should To Kill a Mockingbird be banned from schools? I read it in school and I happen to think I turned out all right.
But when I look at that list of banned/challenged books in Canada, I also see that many have been challenged in my own city library. Why? I'm an adult and I should be fully capable of figuring out what I want to read. I kinda like thrillers and I'm ok with the graphic depictions of blood and violence. I'm not going to rush out and commit murder - even if my husband has expressed concern about how many thrillers I read. I just like a good mystery, a good thriller, a good book with a good puzzle. Why should someone else get to decide if I should or should not read it?
There is much to learn in this world.