Yesterday, September 21st, marked the first day of this year’s Banned Books Week in which we celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of preventing censorship. Here at TU Press we know how powerful books can be in shaping the lives of current and future generations. Books offer us a multitude of interesting perspectives and inspire people to change the world, be it through involvement in environmental issues or through the understanding of one’s self in the world.
Some of my favorite books, that have incidentally changed my life in some way, are regularly challenged or banned. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya and Animal Farm by George Orwell are both books I read as a freshman in high school and helped grow my love of reading and creative writing. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa had me in tears the first time I read it as a junior in high school. It was one of the first books that spoke to me on a level no book had ever been able to. San Antonio’s first poet laureate Carmen Tafolla’s book of poetry, Curandera, has also been challenged and banned. It is also currently sitting on my bookshelf at home, a constant inspiration for me.
As a lover of books and a supporter of the right to read, I understand that banning books isn’t good. However, parents and teachers can still be wary of allowing children to read certain books; the best thing we can do is talk to children about the issues these books present and figure out which books are appropriate for them. As they get older, they’ll be able to choose to read books that may have been deemed too mature for them as children.
This year the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is sponsoring a free webinar on Wednesday, September 24th over regional issues for banned books in 2014 which will showcase three activists from both the U.S. and the U.K. If you miss out on the webinar, there are still many ways you can get involved and exercise your rights.
Even after Banned Books Week ends, I encourage you all to stay informed on which books are being challenged or banned, along with speaking out against censorship in your community. Head over to the American Library Association’s Banned Books website to see a list of Frequently Challenged Books and learn how you can help support the continued freedom to read.
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.