Recently, two attempts have been made to remove Stephen Chbosky’s acclaimed The Perks of Being a Wallflower from schools. This is nothing new for the novel, which has made ALA’s most challenged books list several times. The National Coalition Against Censorship, which includes CBLDF and recently wrote a letter in defense of the book, shared a recent interview with Chbosky about the attempts to ban Perks.
NCAC asked Chbosky to share his feelings about the recent victory in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where a grassroots campaign that included CBLDF, NCAC, members of the community, and even author Judy Blume helped preserve the book:
I was very happy because I felt the community had its debate, and the right side won. I’m never against the debate. The debate part is great, but the silencing and censorship is always a bad thing.
Students were among the most ardent defenders of the book, creating a You Tube video that expressed how important the book was to them. In the interview, Chbosky expressed his appreciation for their passion:
It means so much to me. You asked about whether hearing about banning gets easier or change, the one thing that it doesn’t change is how moved I’ve become by the passion and the idealism and optimism of young people. The older I get, it actually becomes more pronounced.
After sharing his personal experience with the attempts to ban his book and how readers have responded to the novel, Chbosky spoke about how a parent is responsible for only his or her own children, not other children:
Every time I’ve ever gotten involved in one of these book challenges, that’s always my stance. I would personally be very upset if a school forced a kid to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower against his or her parents’ objections or against his or her objections. So to me, it’s just the way that I was raised. It’s good manners to mind your own home, mind your own business, and mind your own store. So to let other people simply dismiss something as unworthy or without merit—especially if you haven’t read the book yourself or spoken to some of the people who love it and who might have been helped or even saved by it—to me is disrespectful.
You can read the entirety of Chbosky’s interview here.
Without the intervention of free speech advocates such as CBLDF and NCAC, students, parents, instructors, writers such as Judy Blume, and more, The Perks of Being a Wallflower might have been banned from classrooms in Glen Ellyn. Please help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!