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!