Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Banned Books Reading Challenge and Ban This! 2010

You know, I've never really understood how people could immediately dislike something without fully getting to know it, letting it sink in and understanding exactly what it stood for. I mean, even mundane things like Justin Bieber, or that nasty-looking seaweed salad, or perhaps even that sweater Lola lovingly made for you.

But I'm not here to talk about that, interesting as those topics may be. I'm talking about -shudder- school novel study units.

On one hand, I really despise being unable to choose my own book. For the past few years, I've always thought picking my own would lead to greater enthusiasm for the actual work. I mean, I have a TBR pile that'd probably be able to go around the world twice. Why can't I choose my novel from there?

And these are only my library books.
(Sorry for the low quality; I'm only using my laptop's shoddy webcam)

On the other hand, I'm intrigued by the idea of trying out something new--something that could easily become a favourite of mine (or the ultimate dud), something that otherwise I might not have checked out on my own.

Definitely not a dud.

I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird in my Grade 9 English class vividly--and I'm sure my English teacher does too. I'm one of those non-concise students who just loves to ramble on, and on, and on (as you could probably tell)--and it shows in my writing. You could just imagine the look on his face when I handed in an 11-page response journal!

But that's just the thing--I loved having the opportunity to analyze TKAM from every angle, just musing about the courageous, admirable and just plain human characters and their struggles through racism, injustice and hypocrisy.

Gosh, I loved precocious Scout, and her too awesome for words father, Atticus Finch. Seriously. (For my next response journal, my English teacher nervously told me to shorten it a bit. Was 8 pages short enough, Mr. Rossi?)

He should have invested in one of these.

And I can't imagine not having that opportunity. When I read about the high school that banned TKAM in 2009, I was shocked. And very angry. Seriously? At this day and age, when freedom of speech is considered a right and not a privilege? And all because one parent complained about foul language!

That Grade 10 English class missed out on a rich, tragic but hopeful American classic. I sure hope they all bought themselves a copy anyway, just because it would've been a sin to miss.

I firmly believe that everyone has the right to read and write whatever they want--whether it be a picture book about gay penguins, the hauntingly beautiful coming-of-age tale of a Jewish girl during the Holocaust, or self-mutilation.

Seriously, who would have the heart to ban such a lovely picture book?

It isn't right to limit the choices of a large group of people just because a few found it "inappropriate for the age group". Hey, to each his own, right? Censorship is that dictator breathing heavily over your shoulder--the combined breaths of hissing, controlling snakes--but we shouldn't let ourselves be cowed. That dictator can be conquered! (Now I sound like an infomercial. Hmm.)

Keepin' 'em innocent and pure!

And that's why initiatives like the Banned Books Reading Challenge, Banned Books Week, and Ban This! are important. Never underestimate the impact of a good awareness campaign, as a leader of my school's Gender Justice club put it. After all, isn't knowledge power? It is imperative that we educate ourselves on issues that threaten our freedom. Nothing's better than an open mind, I'd say.

One book's banning is another voice crushed, stifled and left in the dark. Why should we stand aside and let that happen?

September 25th to October 2nd is Banned Books Week but Donna @ Bites is starting up the whole shindig early and starting her campaign on September 1st. And hey, Steph @ Steph Su Reads is holding the Banned Books Reading Challenge 2010 from September 1st to October 15th.

That said, I love the idea behind the BBRC 2010. Thanks to Steph @ Steph Su Reads for hosting it and Donna at Bites her amazing month-long campaign (not to mention that powerful post)! You guys should definitely check them out.

At least in the blog sense. But I digress.

My goal for this 1 month and 15 day challenge is 12 books! They're going to be predominantly YA and one of them is a collection of teen writing! Saying I'm tremendously excited is a severe understatement. I'm so lucky that my library isn't the banning kind.

My Picks:

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
4. Heartbreak and Roses: Real Life Stories of Troubled Love by Janet Bode and Stan Mack
5. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
6. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
7. Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Writers from WritersCorps
8. Looking for Alaska by John Green
9. The Boy Book: a Study of Habits and Behaviours, plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart
10. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
11. Shattering Glass by Gail Giles
12. Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

To get into the swing of things, I'll also be posting reviews of some banned books I had previously read. Soon, very soon.

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
4. Carrie by Stephen King

Here's the post where I talk about being a former Twi-hard, the insane fact that Twilight got banned in Orange County, and mention freaking out my mom.

Here's to hoping you all have amazing reading (and learning) experiences throughout the challenge's duration!


kenpen said...

Hi! I found your blog thru Steph Su's challenge. I look forward to reading your banned book posts.

Alison said...

Great choices. I'm picking up Speak for the challenge. If I have time I'd love to read Go Ask Alice, Sarah Dessen, Gail Giles, and so many others. Too many good banned books.
Alison Can Read

Stephanie said...

Great post, and I really like your list of picks! I'd almost forgotten about And Tango Makes Three -- I read that to my little girl a few years ago. Very cute book -- and it does open the door to discussions about the many kinds of loving families kids can have.

Lisa Potts said...

Looking For Alaska is soooooo good.

I'm going to be reading three Judy Blume books with my daughter that have been on the list for the last decade.