Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow!

I thought I owned a copy of A Wrinkle in Time, but I don’t. Well, I didn’t yesterday afternoon. As of last night at about 7:00, I do own a copy.

There are many choices to consider when picking out a banned or challenged book to read. As I was walking out the door of the bookstore, I caught a glimpse of The Witches by Roald Dahl, number 27 on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1999-2000. I had decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time because I have been planning to reread the entire Time Quartet for some time. Still, it was hard not to also buy The Witches. Mrs. Fulce would be so proud of me!

I never realized how banning books affected me until I started reading the Harry Potter series. I realize there are many of you who might not approve of my choice to read those novels, so I’m probably speaking to you in this post.

When I was about 12 or 13, I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume. This book addressed issues that I was trying to understand about what was happening to my changing body. It answered questions that I was afraid to ask. I didn’t feel her writing was inappropriate, and still don’t. In her introduction to Places I Never Meant To Be, she states that after writing that book, she became “one of the most banned writers in America.” She was banned because she was not afraid to write honestly about growing up, or anything else, for that matter. Who could ever believe that honest writing would cause you to become the author of so many banned books?

I have never been able to understand why someone would speak out so loudly with the masses to reject a book they have never taken the time to read. This is how I defend my choice to read the Harry Potter series. I began reading these books when I worked in a bookstore that sold both Christian and secular titles. We sold the Harry Potter series, and were criticized. One day, the boss asked for someone to volunteer to read the books to decide whether or not they were appropriate. Since I’ll read just about anything, I volunteered. I read the first four books (the fifth hadn’t been released yet), and fell in love with this delightful boy named Harry Potter. There are some of you who would unashamedly read C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a book fraught with animals of fantasy, such as centaurs, fauns, and an omniscient lion, not to mention, of course, the presence of a witch. Yet, you would criticize me for indulging in a series where good always wins out over evil, where the most powerful wizard is not the strongest, but the most humble, where lessons of the power of love are learned somewhere in each book of the series. Without reading even the first page of the first novel, you have already decided that you despise Harry Potter, and everything that he represents.

In a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, there is a fantastic article that points out the many “intimations of Christian spirituality” found within the pages of Harry Potter. Don’t believe me? You can see for yourself here.

The problem with banning books is that it doesn’t just affect some of us. It affects all of us. Sometimes we don’t realize that when books are challenged, it is not just books that teach something we don’t believe in that are challenged. Take, for instance, A Wrinkle In Time. Madeleine L’Engle was heavily influenced by C. S. Lewis. As we all know, C. S. Lewis is one of the foremost writers of contemporary Christian thought. Also included in the banned and challenged books list are works like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Outsiders; all of which deal with important social and racial issues. They teach valuable lessons about accepting people based on their merit as a human being and not the color of their skin or the amount of money in their pockets.

You see, when we ban books, we aren’t just banning things we may not believe in, we are banning the freedom to read. You cannot believe in just banning some books, because “tolerance” teaches that if we ban the books that the Christians disagree with, we must also ban the books that the non-Christians disagree with. Do you see where I’m going here? If we support the banning of books, any books, we are opening up the door for someone to decide that the Bible is a book that should be banned. In fact, that has already happened, hasn’t it? People have already tried to ban the Bible. It’s a paradox, but if we support the banning of books, then we are actually standing in support of banning the most important book that has ever been written, God’s Word.

So, who’s still in favor of banning books? If you are, you shouldn’t be. It is a dangerous choice to make.

Celebrate our freedom to read! Read a banned book!

10 thoughts on “Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow!

  1. rindy says:

    Well said, Nicole! I had a somewhat similar experience that caused me to start reading the Harry Potter series. I was in seminary when they made their grand entrance, and you can imagine what most of the southern baptist seminary community had to say about them. However I started finding that most everyone who was so staunchly against them had never read even one word of them. So, I read. And, I loved. I do agree with some that they are not books for young children to read without parental guidance. But what a great way to get a child reading and be a part of their life by reading it with them! Anyway, I completely agree with you on every point of your essay. šŸ™‚ And I have never reread A Wrinkle in Time, but you have made me want to because I remember Mrs. Roach reading it to my 5th grade class and I LOVED it!!

  2. Coley says:

    Rindy, I always think about Mrs. Lann reading aloud to the class in third grade. I think I even remember that I was jealous of your class because Mrs. Roach read aloud and Mrs. Card did not.Your findings are exactly what I have found . . . most of the people that are so vocal have never read a word of the books. The same is true of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You should reread A Wrinkle in Time. A Swiftly Tilting Planet was my favorite of the series, but they’re all good!

  3. Coley says:

    A Wind in the Door is a good one, too, Jai. Honestly, I love the first three. I’m not so crazy about Many Waters. And I never got around to reading An Acceptable Time. This time, I plan to read them all, and maybe a few of her other books I’ve overlooked.

  4. gail says:

    nicole, just found your blog. i admit i haven’t read the harry potter books. maybe i will at some point. my sis who teaches 3rd grade did read the first half of the first book and she said what she was dismayed about what the way the adults were portrayed as dolts. something about the kids not respecting their elders … as a teacher she is very sensitive to this. i’ve never been on the ban books bandwagon, but i dont’ read every book out there just cuz its popular. i try to choose carefully for myself, and sometimes i just don’t have time to read much. thanks for the thotprovoking blog.

  5. Jana Swartwood says:

    In response to Gail’s comment, I would say that the reason your sister views adults as being portrayed as dolts is that she only read the first half of the first book.There are wise and respected adults in the Harry Potter books. Just as there are dolts.Much like real life, I might add.

  6. Coley says:

    Gail, I am truly sorry that your sister did not finish the book. I think she might have had a very different opinion if she had. As Jana has already pointed out, “There are wise and respected adults in the Harry Potter books. Just as there are dolts. Much like real life, I might add.”That is basically the response I had in mind.In my daily life, I meet adults for whom I have absolutely no respect whatsoever. To be blunt, they are complete morons. I saw one at the airport yesterday, yelling at people, throwing his suitcases around, and taking down the name of every person that didn’t bow to his wishes. Every person that watched his behavior mocked him. I heard them. No one looked at this man with respect. I did, however, gain a respect for the people that he was yelling at. They remained calm. They did not resort to calling security, as I would have, and they managed to get him to eventually calm down and act his age, which, judging by his looks, was well over my 29 years. He was a dolt. He should have known better than to act as he did in a public place that is constantly on the lookout for dangerous people. Much like the Dursleys, this gentleman was selfish, rude, and treated people with as little respect as one might treat a mosquito.For the record, Gail, I did not start reading the Harry Potter books because they were popular. I read them because I was asked to read them by my boss so that I could let her know if they were the terrible books that people who had not read them seemed to believe they were. I read very few books because of their popularity. In fact, I generally avoid reading books that have a lot of publicity attached to them, simply because I prefer to read books based on their merit as literature, not their status on the bestseller lists. I read those books, and waited for them with anticipation, because they are truly well written. They teach valuable lessons on humility and love.I hope that both you and your sister give these books a second chance. I truly believe that they are worth your time.

  7. Jana Swartwood says:

    So Nicole, did your boss ask you to read them because she was curious, but not curious enough to risk the lightning bolt from heaven that might strike her if she defiled her eyes with them?šŸ™‚Sorry, that was mean. I didn’t mean it. Really. (But I’m still clicking “Publish.”)

  8. Coley says:

    Jai, you are pretty close. She did actually say, “Someone has to read them. I can’t read them, but someone has to.” It was pretty obvious that she was slightly afraid to read them. Ridiculous. Anyway, I’m glad no one else volunteered, or I might never have read them at all! (Although, I probably still would have.)

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