We just finished up Banned Books Week across the country and the ALA is alive with all of the various lists of banned books now and over time (http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek). ALA@Wayne joined forces with Always Brewing Detroit to have a Banned Books Reading Night. Due to a small turnout, this event quickly turned into a roundtable discussion, and several members of a book club joined us, which regularly meet at Always Brewing, as well as, a lawyer and her young daughter, whom had her own thoughts about banned books and is also was an avid reader.
We brought in Looking for Alaska, which regularly makes the list for smoking, drinking, and sexuality; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, for its trippy nature; and The Boy Who Lost His Face, for including the occult and some incredibly brief sexuality. From banned books, we discussed the teaching of literature, i.e. having discussions about difficult subject matter and how to help students value the written word. We talked about what makes books good, or have value. Does it depend on your emotional reaction or attachment to the story? Is it okay to just like something even though it’s something you read before bed and it’s not a dense novel that you can pick apart with others?
What gives something literary merit—is it how it’s written vs. subject? It’s definitely important for librarians to consider all of these factors when recommending books to people, and there is not just one area of the United States that bans books. It’s happens all over. Do your part—even if you don’t engage in conversation with others about a banned book, pick one up and read it. Consider why it was banned and if that holds true for you. Lists can be found in the above link.
Thanks to Amanda Brewington and Always Brewing Detroit for hosting us and to those who attended.
Elissa Zimmer, President