The Right to Think For Ourselves – #BannedBooksWeek + Giveaway


Sheila at Book Journey is hosting a week of great posts as well as some giveaways for Playing to Beat the Banned. Be sure to click over to Sheila’s site for links to more great posts and giveaways. We are celebrating Banned Books Week! As a reader first and a library employee second, I knew I had to join in the #BannedBooksWeek celebration this year. I have so much to say on the topic! Read on – and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post.

“Not every book is right for each reader, but we should have the right
to think for ourselves and allow others to do the same.”

When I read this quote from former American Library Association President Roberta Stevens, it really spoke to me. We live in a world where we are desensitized to many things…but we are also censored from many things – and not of our own free will. I think that as a society, we look to those in charge. We sometimes want them to tell us what is good for us and we trust them to do the right thing.

Banned and challenged books are quite a conundrum to me. When I read the 100 most frequently challenged books by decade list, I was surprised to see many books on the list that I have read. Books that I have read to my children or my older daughter has read on her own. Books that I recommend to patrons at the library. How is it determined that books are offensive enough to be banned? It seems largely based on opinion to me, as something that offends one person likely does not offend the next person. And, even if something is considered offensive enough to be challenged and banned – why should I not still have the freedom to choose to read it?

If a person is in the pursuit of knowledge, either through an educational facility or a library, who are we to stand in the way of that knowledge? If we are offended by it in some capacity, we do not have to read it. We do not ban foods from supermarkets or restaurants, though the odor, appearance or consumption of certain foods may be offensive to some. Isn’t this the same thing?

As a library employee, I feel it is my duty to open the doors of the library wide and allow every patron that passes through the right to read whatever they desire. Do I have to like what they choose? No. Do I have to read it myself? No. Do I have the right to prevent them from reading any material made available to them? Definitely not.

If we allow our freedom to read to be compromised, we are agreeing to a breakdown of knowledge. Without reading, learning and expanding its knowledge through books, I think society would begin to disintegrate. It is out of our hands if someone chooses not to obtain reading materials, banned or otherwise. But if they do choose to read materials, even banned materials, then we should not stand in their way. We should staunchly defend The Right to Think For Ourselves – if we lose that, then we have lost everything.

What are your thoughts on Banned Books Week? Do you think books should be banned? Have you read any banned books? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”
-Jo Godwin

One lucky US winner will receive a Banned Books Week themed Prize Pack from Brooke Blogs! This will include some fun banned books related swag, as well as a paperback copy of a banned book. The actual contents of the prize pack will be a surprise. πŸ˜€ The contest is open to US residents ages 18+ who are legally allowed to enter giveaways. Winner will be randomly selected at the conclusion of the giveaway. Giveaway ends 10/03/15. Void where prohibited.


40 comments / Add your comment below

  1. No, I don’t think books should be banned because it restricts our right to freedom , as well as, the right to learn and develop as individuals. I don’t think that other people’s opinions (whether the opinion is political, religious, or whatever) should dictate what books I am allowed to read. Basically, everyone should have the right to read (or even not to read) whatever book they want.

    Yes, I have read some of the books on the banned list, and I noticed that the Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling was on it. I loved the series and bought all of them for my personal collection.

    1. Hi Jen! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I totally agree~no one else’s opinions should dictate our reading choices. We love Harry Potter in our house, too. πŸ™‚

  2. I don’t believe in any forms of censorship or the banning of books. I was very surprised by those lists, I’ve read a lot if them and encouraged my children to read them, especially the classics. Adults can choose what to read or not and I feel it’s our responsibility to teach right / wrong, good/ bad to our children and give them the tools to make educated and good decisions in life. There are quite a few things that offend me but I don’t force my opinions on others, I’m always open to a good debate but ultimately the freedom to choose should absolutely be our own.

    1. Great points, Raine. I don’t believe in banning or censorship either. There is a quote I like, though I’m not sure of the author: “Censorship causes blindness”. I agree with you, it is up to us to provide the tools and allow our children and others in society to make educated decisions.

  3. I was surprised to see the book, about Jaycee Dugard on this list? I think I saw it on there. My goodness. She was a prisoner of a crazy man’s for years, and this is banned? Her story? Brooke, let me know if this is true? It shouldn’t be banned.

    1. Hi Faye,

      A book can be challenged or banned in many capacities. I know that at least one school removed Jaycee’s book from their shelves. They felt there were controversial passages in it and decided that they did not want to keep the book in their school library. When a book is challenged or banned, it is not banned from everywhere, usually just from those facilities that decide they do not want to keep it in their collection. Even when it is a book that many enjoy, or feel is important, or feel the story needs to be told, some places will choose to ban the book. That’s not to say that the students in that school couldn’t get the book on their own and read it – just that the school would not be the one making the book available to their students.

  4. I don’t believe anyone should control what I read except me! I’m in my late sixties and I’ve read lots of banned books. Some of them I read even before I was a teen. It was ok with my family and I never stopped my children from reading whatever they wanted. Some of the books on the list really surprise me!

    1. Hi Carol! There are always books on the banned/challenged lists that surprise me. I absolutely agree with you – what I read is up to me! πŸ™‚ My thirteen year old daughter is reading a banned book right now, too.

  5. I don’t think any books should be banned. I believe that if a person wants to read a book, that they should be allowed to do so. I have not read any banned books yet.

  6. Great post! I think banning books is ridiculous. Everyone should have the right to read whatever they want, not included young children. I have read a few banned books, and am currently reading Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Son. My son has the series and finally talked me into trying it.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Vicki! I agree – as parents it is our responsibility to make sure children read material appropriate for their age group and understanding. My 13 year old daughter is currently reading the Harry Potter series as well. πŸ™‚

  7. I do not believe in censorship and am always shocked at the challenged books on the list. Many people have said they have never read a banned book and my response is, “you most likely have!” Just recently I read that there is a movement trying to get Twas the Night Before Christmas republished so Santa does not have a pipe or a circle of smoke above his head. As a reader and a writer, these kind of challenges drive me crazy. There are books that make uncomfortable, but I would never demand they be removed or deny someone else their right to read it. So that being said, I am debating which banned books I will be reading this week!

    1. Well said, Linda! People read banned books all the time without knowing it. Many Dr. Seuss books, the Harry Potter series, many Roald Dahl books, L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz) – lots of books you wouldn’t think of as offensive have been banned. Hope you find some great banned ones to read this week!

  8. I am definitely opposed to any form of book banning…and I have seen many beloved books on the Banned Books Lists.

    As you said, we don’t have to read books that seem offensive to us, but we don’t have the right to prevent others from making that choice.

    Great post!

  9. In all honesty, I despise the very idea that anyone thinks they have the right to A) tell another person what they can or cannot read (obviously not counting parental guidance of minors) and B) deny any other person access to a book they wish to read just because a small portion of the population find it offensive. Whether or not something offends us is a choice we make. Just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean that others who might enjoy it shouldn’t be allowed to read it or even check it out of the library.

    I have read banned/challenged books – I’ve read some of the Harry Potter series, Anne Rice books, even Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been banned/challenged and I’ve read it. There are quite a few books I’ve read that have been banned.

  10. I don’t think books should be banned. They should just have ratings or warnings on them. Yes I have read a few banned kids books, and think the reasons for them being banned is ludicrous.

  11. This is my second try at posting here. Of course I have read Banned Books. I am 69 years old. That’s a lot of year reading. When a teenager and in high school, there was 1984, Lolita, In Cold Blood, Tropic of Cancer, Animal Farm, later The Color Purple, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Kite Runner, The Perks of Being A Wallflower and lots of others.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thank you so much for visiting my post and sharing some of the banned books you’ve read! I haven’t yet read some of those you’ve listed, so I’ll be adding them to my list. I love hearing about other people who are life-long readers. I can’t imagine a life where I haven’t read as much as I could. πŸ™‚ Have a great week!


  12. Some of the books are surprising and not surprising at the same time. Like, The Lovely Bones. It is such a good, deep, meaningful story BUT it does have some really painful scenes. Just because a book is painful and hard to read, doesn’t mean it should be banned though.

  13. I don’t believe books should be banned. From what I’ve read on why some of the books on the list (100 top banned books) were banned, I feel like the reasons weren’t even good reasons. It’s almost like the people that wanted them banned were just looking for something offensive and I know that there are people out there who get offended by every thing but that shouldn’t stop everyone else from being able to read what they want.

    I loved your analogy of comparing banning books to banning foods. That’s a good way to look at it!

  14. Hey Brooke! I’ve written a guest post for Book Journey as well. What is it about “herd mentality”? If its on the web, it’s of course true….wrong! We should read whatever we want and the heck with everyone else! I saw an example of that when Kastensakis’ book Last Temptation of Christ came out as a movie by Martin Scorsese. The book itself was one man searching for God/Jesus, and it got him excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church. I was such a rural pastor in those days, I read the book first! Then, when I got back to Minneapolis/ St.Paul, I got to see the film just before the movie run ended. The film is Scoresese’s search for God/Jesus in the rituals if the Roman Catholic Church, and he got excommunicated for it too. Now, the fuss and bother was about the idea that Jesus had a sex life (!) and when I purchased a used video for my own library, you could see that people had rented it…got to the “good part”, saw it was nothing out of the ordinary, rewound it, and returned it!

    All that fuss over nothing! Willamon, a theologian of some note and his followers had probably never even read the book which I THINK was written in 1935?

    Reminds me to put it on my DVD list……


  15. That’s such a perfect quote. Because of course, sometimes things just aren’t age appropriate, or just not the right book at the right time. I am always amazed how many of my favorite titles that have been challenged and/or banned.

  16. “If we allow our freedom to read to be compromised, we are agreeing to a breakdown of knowledge.”
    Absolutely agree! Sadly, there are some who would gladly impinge on our knowledge – it is to their benefit that the public be less knowledgable.

  17. I don’t know why some people feel like they have the right to speak for everyone and ban a book. If you don’t want to read a certain book, don’t read it.

  18. I don’t think anyone should be told what they can and can’t read. After seeing some of the books on the list I just sat there shaking my head. If it a book is offensive to someone, walk on by. Don’t read it. But no one has the right to tell me I can’t read what I want.
    Carol L

  19. I don’t think anyone should be told what they can and can’t read. After seeing some of the books on the list I just sat there shaking my head. If it a book is offensive to someone, walk on by. Don’t read it. But no one has the right to tell me I can’t read what I want.
    Carol L

  20. I don’t believe in banning books. I’m always curious about what books get banned and why because that makes me want to read them even more! I find that a lot of the banned books are thought provoking and have great messages. Some of my favorites are The Giver, The Hunger Games series and The Handmaid’s Tale. Thanks for this amazing giveaway – I would love to win!

  21. I’ve read over half of the banned books listed. My most favorite book is on the list: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle. Parents can say what their children can read but they better not try to remove them from libraries. My button I wear this week says: I read Banned Books!
    Thanks for the contest.

  22. I don’t believe in ‘banning’ books but just like everyone who is of sound mind and of legal age can choose for themselves, I believe that private institutions can and should do what they are allowed by the Constitution to do. If it’s their ‘belief’ that a book might be harmful to the minds of young children and they are getting private funding they should be allowed to withhold materials they deem harmful. It’s their constitutional rights as well. We can’t take our given rights away either way.

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