Pick up a classic during annual Banned Books Week | Librarian's Desk

By Erin Peterson | Sep 22, 2018

Fall is in the air, and with it comes back-to-school assignments and cooler weather perfect for curling up inside with a good book or movie.

In the library world, fall also coincides with Banned Books Week, Sept. 23-29 this year. It is a time for libraries and the book community across the nation to celebrate everyone’s freedom to read.

As a librarian, Banned Books Week has always been one of my favorite yearly events. It highlights something that is truly special about my job and about the role of the public library in society in protecting free and open access to information.

This includes everyone’s right to read.

The public library has always been a place where people from all walks of life can go to access information of every type.

What an important tenet of our democracy this is, and what an honor to work in a profession that supports equal access to the library and its resources for all.

Historically, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is widely considered to be the first book in the United States to experience a large-scale ban at the national level. It was barred from stores both because of the heated debates it ignited about slavery and for its pro-abolitionist stance.

Over the course of time, many such banned books have been recognized for the important role they have played in the history of our country.

The list of banned books is long and broad. It includes many titles that are considered classics, and titles that may be future classics. Here are a few of my banned-book favorites, all available in the Sno-Isle Libraries catalog:

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is the heartbreaking story of the unlikely and inseparable friendship between a wealthy Afghan boy and the son of his father's servant, both of whom are caught in the tragic sweep of history.

Published in the aftermath of America's invasion of Afghanistan, Hosseini's haunting writing brought a part of the world to vivid life for readers.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is about a young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s. She learns of injustice and violence when her father, a widowed lawyer, defends a black man falsely accused of rape.

“A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein is a collection of humorous poems and drawings.

“Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred Taylor tells the story of a black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s faced with prejudice and discrimination, which its children do not understand.

“The Great Gatsby” is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book and stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers.

For centuries, books have been challenged for reasons ranging from sexual content, to portrayals of alternative lifestyles, to racial themes.

For the past 30 years, libraries have celebrated each individual’s right to free and equal access to information and ideas and that these books still remain available.

So please, this fall, come into your local Edmonds Library – get some advice on resources for homework help, connect with your neighbors at a library program and, while you’re at it, enjoy your right to read and pick up a banned book from our display.

Erin Peterson is assistant managing librarian at the Edmonds Library.

 

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