Being a child and having your mom and dad read you a book is a memory that kids hold dear in their hearts forever. Ask any college student, or any adult, and they will absolutely have a story about their favorite book that their parents read to them, or even a favorite chapter book they read in high school.
Being shy and extremely quiet growing up, reading was a huge part of my life, and I have vivid memories of Barnes and Noble trips with my parents, getting home and devouring the book in one night.
Some popular favorites of kids that grew up in the early 2000’s include “Click-Clack-Moo,” “Bear Snores On,” “The Doll People,” “Chrysanthemum,” “Because of Winn Dixie” and “Good Night Moon.” The memory of the little animal characters and adorable storylines still linger in my head and make me feel like I am in elementary school again.
My best friend Lily and I were reminiscing about childhood books and memories, and one memory that she insisted on talking about for an hour was her childhood love of “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Suess.
Lily’s dad bought it for her in preschool and read it to her every night. Then, her dad bought the same book for her when she graduated high school. These are the kinds of memories that follow people throughout their lives, being passed down from generation to generation.
My other friend Jenny remembered a book called “My Very Own Name Book,” and each page was a different aspect of her life, such as her town, favorite color, favorite food and her family. Jenny remembers thinking about how famous she was that someone had thought to write a book specifically about her!
Each year during Banned Book Week, thousands of books are taken off the shelves and every year more and more classics are being removed due to censorship efforts raised by parents, institutions and community members who are highlighting the books’ controversial aspects, such as offensive behavior, explicit language and drug use.
Some classics that are on the list this year are “Gone with the Wind,” “Catcher in the Rye,” “Of Mice and Men,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Great Gatsby.” This past summer, the removal of “Gone with the Wind” from television was also a hot topic because of the racist aspects and the glorification of the culture of pre-civil war in the South.
Personally, I found this sad because I grew up watching the movie as a little girl and found a deep love for the story and its characters. In high school, I read the book and found it equally intriguing, as I was thrown into the world of Atlanta in the 1800s, and thought, “What little girl does not want to be Scarlett O’Hara living at Tara in Atlanta?”
Her large, southern-styled gowns, self-confidence and love for Rhett Butler will live on for ages. Despite the good parts, there are many aspects that can be considered offensive, one being the depiction of slavery and the mistreatment of Mammy, the slave, which can be seen as insulting because the main characters, who are all white and wealthy, are held in high regard. A Harris poll in 2014 found that “Gone With the Wind” was America’s second favorite book, with only the Bible beating it. So, why is this book being banned now? As the years have gone on, a cultural revolution has been occurring and society has become more and more understanding and empathetic towards racism and all things considered “offensive.”
People are now recognizing that even though some of us may not find certain things offensive, other communities do, and therefore, as a society, we need to comply. The problem is that many issues have become polarized and political. No matter the topic, everyone seems to run to their sides and cling to what they believe instead of trying to understand what others are thinking.
The other books on the list, such as “Catcher in the Rye,” “Of Mice and Men” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” all normalize racism, use offensive language in regard to certain groups of people, including those with disabilities and do not take into account how far we have come as a society. It’s 2020 and people enjoy coming together to voice their opinions through social media and protesting for social and racial justice.
Personally, I have read almost all the books on the banned books list in my high school English classes. What I have found is that controversial topics always led to good discussions in class. Being able to recognize that times have changed and see the difference in society was eye-opening and a testament to how far our great country has come.