It’s Banned Book Week in the US this week, unfortunately it doesn’t look like we have a week in Aus but please correct me if I am wrong! So I thought I would take this opportunity to do some research into banned books, and put some on my TBR, additionally I have challenge myself to read one this week.
When first looking into it I just assumed it would be your traditional banned books from the 60’s about racism and the like (which are still really important to read and recognise) but I was so surprised (I have no idea why) that contemporary books are still being challenged every year! Banned book weeks website has the top 10 challenged books from 2016 and I noticed 2 things:
- I hadn’t read any of them and
- The most common reason why a book was banned or complained about was because it is sexually explicit followed closely by including LGBTQ characters! It’s worth noting these are also mostly YA or childrens books
One complaint is because the cover has 2 boys kissing, like really? The book is called TWO BOYS KISSING! And it isn’t a single incident either, it’s number 5 on the list which means that this novel has been complained about multiple times.
Obviously the attempt at censorship is the biggest issue here but what I find most concerning, particularly in the Australian Political climate, is that people think it is ok to challenge a book for (and I quote) challenged because it includes LGBT characters. LGBTQ people exist and it shouldn’t be an issue that they are included in a story or are the main character in a story. I accept that as a parent you have somewhat control over the stories your child consumes. Don’t want them to watch Porn, I get it. Don’t want them to play violent video games, I get it. Don’t want them to read a book because it includes a gay character, I don’t get it. Makes an official complaint that that book exists in a library, I don’t get it.
You know what else I don’t get? Why don’t adults want kids to read about sex? Sex is everywhere in the music we listen to, in the movies we watch and even in advertising. We live in a highly sexualised society why would you not want your kids to read about 2 consenting people falling in love and having sex. This isn’t some 50 shades shit either, almost all YA that has sex has the fade to black once things actually start happening. But what they do get to see is a relationship formed with ups and downs, the decision to take that step together, almost all YA has a conversation, or at least shows the use of contraception and talks about sex in a positive way. I am not saying all YA is perfect and that every YA couple is perfect but almost all YA I have read looks at sex in a positive light and if you want to hide your kids from sex in general books would not be your biggest concern.
During my lunch break I went down to Dymocks on Collins and bought myself this ridiculously cute bookmark from Nook & Burrow
And number 5. from the 2016 top 10 challenged books, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. I also purchased 1984 because lets keep resisting!!!
So why not join me! Read a banned/challenged book this week. Say a big FUCK you to the people who tried to stop you from learning and experiencing things you could never do on your own without these insightful and rebellious reads. Pick up a book, you know you wanna!