Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Boomer's Perspective on Banned Books Week

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Censorship and Invisibility: A Boomer Perspective by Barbara Jones, Director for the ALA Office For Intellectual Freedom found on the Huffington Post website.

In her article, Ms. Jones writes a very powerful message about censorship:
I am deeply concerned about the current deluge of removals of classic books from the American literary canon. I thought that, as a society, we had reached a consensus that the literary canon should represent diverse segments of U.S. society. Multicultural literary works are not being included because of some need for "political correctness." They are included because they are excellent and have been acknowledged as such by countless awards for literary merit. Though books that deal with controversial topics may make some readers uncomfortable, such literature offers a vehicle for true learning and understanding.

I believe that increased attention to educational standards such as Common Core and politically motivated scrutiny is the cause for these calls for censorship. It is great that people care about and pay attention to what students are reading. On the other hand, it is alarming that they do not respect 1) those families that may want their children to read the book; 2) the expectations that students entering college will have already encountered these classic books in high school; and 3) the experience and expertise of the librarians, teachers, and other specialists who recommended these books for the curriculum in the first place. 

During Banned Books Week it is time for us to stop and think. To stop and discuss. Not to create barriers to history, or to conversation. Not to force invisibility on anyone in the United States. 

If we can't look back to our past, we can't move forward.

I wish more people held this same attitude as Ms. Jones does! I do think Banned Books Week is important and "that the literary canon should represent diverse segments of U.S. society."

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