The leaves are falling, school has started, and you've got a brutal list of assigned reading books a mile long. Looks can be deceiving though—did you know that some of your assignments might have been banned books at one point in time? That's right! The readings your instructors are encouraging you to explore are well worth the effort because many of them were penned by literary rock stars who broke all the rules!
Every year there is celebration of literature uncensored—Banned Books Week—a whole week dedicated to the most challenged books of our time. It starts today and runs through October 1st.
Let's compare notes. In some of your classes, you might be required to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Before Collins wrote of Katniss battling President Snow as the Mocking Jay, To Kill a Mockingbird made waves when Harper Lee rewrote the rules of modern literature. Maybe you have to read 1984 by George Orwell? This book was published in 1949 and has been challenged for decades since then because of its rebellious content. Are you reading Fahrenheit 451 in your English class? This novel really cranks up the heat on censorship, literally. This Bradbury classic is a banned book about banning (or worse-- burning) books. Banned books have shaped our understanding of what is possible with the written word. They are powerful reads that will inspire you to write that response paper.
At the library and in many of your classes this fall, you have the chance to read books that have at one time been banned or challenged because of their content. So don't judge a book by its cover! Take a closer look. You just might find that literature is still keepin' it lit.
You might be surprised to see some of your favorites have been banned or challenged:
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Funhome by Allison Bechdel
- Looking for Alaska by John Green