Banned Books Week is coming, and The Guardian has collected some quotes from authors, novels, and activists meant to inspire you to stand up for the right to read!
One of the biggest obstacles faced by educators and authors is the protection of their students and fans’ right to read. From book bans to book burnings, novels to comic books, the world has had a tumultuous history dealing with controversial materials. And yet, people continue to be outspoken about the detrimental effects of censoring literature, urging would-be book banners to see the fallacy of their ways.
“If a public school were to remove every book because it contains one word deemed objectionable to some parent, then there would be no books at all in our public libraries.” Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said this when the 10th edition of the Merriam Webster dictionary was pulled from a Southern California school in 2010 after parents complained that it included the definition for “oral sex.” Although these words were spoken with regard to this particular case, sadly this statement can be applied to almost all recent cases of attempted public school book bans and challenges. From the pulling of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time from the summer reading list in Florida to the recent graphic novel controversy at Crafton Hills College, book banning has no age restriction and it doesn’t discriminate. Scheer elaborates:
I believe that censorship grows out of fear, and because fear is contagious, some parents are easily swayed. Book banning satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. This fear is often disguised as moral outrage. They want to believe that if their children don’t read about it, their children won’t know about it. And if they don’t know about it, it won’t happen.
As Judy Blume, YA author and fervent proponent for children’s right to read, notes, the urge to censor often comes from a place of fear and lack of understanding. Instead of banning though, as we have noted time and time again as cases arise, books should be seen as the catalyst to incite conversation. Whether it be parent to child or teacher to student, schools and libraries should be a safe place to not only reach, but to speak and discuss the diverse concepts and experiences that books can offer.
“Banning books give us silence when we need speech,” says author Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower — a book that faced multiple bans, including a recent attempt in Wallingford, Connecticut. “It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.”
The Guardian‘s list of quotes is long and pulls from some of the most notable books and creators in recent history. Neil Gaiman, award-winning author of numerous books and graphic novels and CBLDF Advisory Board co-president, succinctly describes the importance of allowing children to read and the ways that reading can shape and change their lives:
There are no bad authors for children… because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories.
Read the full list of quotes here.
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!