Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Book Week: Jeremy from Novel Thoughts Guest Post

I hope that you are having an amazing Banned Book Week because I know I am. Great conversations are being had in my classroom and with parents about what this week is all about. Today is yet another great day in Banned Books Week where I bring you wise words from my friend Jeremy at Novel Thoughts.

Jeremy West grew up in a small town in South Carolina and dreams of living in New York City one day working for a publishing company or in the Film industry. He is the founder of Novel Thoughts, a YA book blog and started it in May 2010. As a blogger, his favorite thing about it is meeting the other awesome bloggers, talking with authors, and even traveling to meet authors while on tour.

Here is what Jeremy has to say about book banning...

There are few things in this world that rile me up but none more than book banning. My entire life I have grown up reading, having others read to me (before I could read, of course), and even writing some on my own. I have never once while reading a book stopped reading something because of a morally questionable issue because it never occurred to me that it was an issue in the first place. Reading is experiencing life. Some people may never go through issues spoken of in books but they become a part of it as they read. But, for me, reading has always been a thing of personal choice. Sure I will read something if someone suggests it but I will NEVER not read something because of one man or woman’s personal preference in challenging a book! If anything, it makes me want to read it all the more!

Seeing this issue spread across the country truly asserts the idea that some people are against the true freedom of speech we’re entitled to. Now I’m not going to go into politics and history here but isn’t that what our relatives fought and died for so many years ago? How can one person decide whether it should be read or not? How hypocritical of that person! I hate pointing fingers but it’s obvious to me when someone works at banning a book yet they have never personally picked up that book and read it for themselves. I believe once they do that (and truly read it) they wouldn’t be so harsh against the book and its author.

Another thing that goes with that is the belief that ideas are not allowed. When someone challenges a book, they are basically shutting up that author’s ideas in that city or school which is so upsetting to see! Think about someone at a college who has been recently raped or sexually abused. They are afraid to speak to anyone about it because of the utter shame that comes with that. But let’s say that she reads Crank by Ellen Hopkins and finds the strength to speak out and gains the courage to fight it. A few days later she finds out that Ellen will be visiting the campus on tour talking about her new book so she gets so excited because Ellen may be the one person that knows what she has gone through and can help her gain her voice. The next day, she finds out that Ellen has been uninvited and her books are no longer allowed on that college campus due to inappropriate writing. This young lady has now been told that what happened to her isn’t typical and shouldn’t be talked about publically even though it really is an issue facing some college age girls today! Now that student has been shut up…

How criminal is it to take that away from someone? Telling them that they have no voice and cannot or should not speak out due to the harshness of the word rape. How foolish of them! What would this world be without a person’s beliefs or ideas? Robotic. Doing only what we are told. Being fed only what we are allowed to hear. Seeing only what we are allowed to see. Wretched. Let this never happen to us. If you hear about a book being either challenged or banned, please do everything in your power to raise awareness and support that book! I promise you may be surprised at how many people will join you! Just ask Laurie Halse Anderson.

Just to add to the end, although somewhat unrelated from the rest of the post, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite banned books. If you haven’t read these, go do it now! I’m also continuing to read and will always support such awesome banned books!

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Thanks so much Jeremy for stopping by today and make sure you check out Novel Thoughts and see what great things he has going on this week (there are some good ones!). Have a great day everyone!

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