It's Banned Books Week. To celebrate -- or, more accurately, to protest -- I'm taking a break from my usual list and reading something from the list of the top 100 "offensive" books.
Conveniently enough, I just bought a copy of The Handmaid's Tale. But it would also be a perfect excuse to re-read A Wrinkle in Time.
I don't understand banning books. Granted, not all of these books are appropriate for children. But still, what does banning books really accomplish? It's ineffective, and it's intellectually lazy. If a book is considered racist or sexist or class-ist or anti-Semitic or anti-God or just plain scary, maybe the key isn't to ban it or ignore it, but to teach kids about the what the book represents, the time and the history and the context in which it was written, and -- hopefully -- how we've grown as a society since then. Or if the book contains -- egads!-- sex, well, maybe we should just finally admit that kids are already learning about it from television and movies and pop culture in general, get over ourselves, and teach them about it in classrooms -- rather than waiting for them to figure it out for themselves in the backseats of cars and on prom night.
Besides, there's an element of reverse psychology at play. If you tell a high school kid not to read Catcher in the Rye or Harry Potter or The Anarchist's Cookbook or whatever, guess what their favorite book is going to wind up being?