Yesterday, I briefly touched on my views of book banning, but figured I'd wait and do an entire post about this controversial topic today. Let me preface this post by saying I believe in books, and intend to fight for them as long as there is a fight to be had. As a voracious reader, and a writer who would like to be published someday, book censorship is a topic close to my heart.
Recently, I found that a number of books, including Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, were being challenged at my former high school. At first, I felt outraged, but then, I just felt saddened. Much of my writing grows from these more intense emotions, and this time was no different.
You can find my response to this news in a letter I wrote here. I've thought and stewed and simmered about this since the beginning of January, but I've finally done something about it. I sent a letter to the superintendent of my former high school, and included information to help her understand why no book should ever be banned. And I included why I thought The Bluest Eye held literary and personal importance for students. Then I added a wonderful article and manifesto from 2010 about the dangers of book banning, which you can find here. This is a beautiful and powerful manifesto written by one of my favorite YA authors, Ellen Hopkins. She has certainly seen her fair share of her own books being banned because of the tough topics covered therein. But I've always thought that was what made her books so uniquely important to young adults.
Of course, I understand why books are being challenged. Books are the most dangerous weapons we have at our disposal; all at once having the power to broaden the mind and connect people, which, can be dangerous. And of course, I understand why canonical texts are used, why they're important, and how the Common Core is changing education. But still, I don't think censoring literature is the answer.
Why am I talking about this here?
Do I hope all of you invisible readers out there will understand how important books are? Yes, of course. But I also want you to understand that you have the power to stand up for these books, for your ideas, and for your right to read. In my quest to begin a campaign against book censorship, I found a wonderful website, which reviews banned books and explains why they are important. You can find that website here.
I passed the website along to the superintendent as well, and then reached out to R. Wolf Baldassarro, the writer and publisher of that amazing website. I wanted to share my gratitude for his site, explaining how it helped me organize my thoughts around this campaign. He very graciously emailed me back yesterday, and thanked me! And then, he emailed me again with a link to his page where he not only thanked me, but said some very poignant and beautiful things about this cause. You can find his post here.
In the post, he said something remarkable:
"We are each of us a drop of water, but together we can wash away the fear and ignorance of the world."
So I suppose, though I am just a drop in this vast ocean of people fighting against book censorship, my drop makes that ocean bigger. His post ended by saying that "the ripples have begun. In time it shall become a tidal wave." I am hoping all of us, the readers and the writers of the world, can become that tidal wave.