Celebrate Banned Book Week 2011

Banned book week, September, 25- October 2, 2011 is one of my all time favorite literary events. Each year I am proud of how many banned or challenged books I count as my favorites. Often it is these very books that change the way I see the world. In my mind, that is a pretty good definition of what makes for a quality book.

Let’s celebrate Banned Book Week with three of my favorite books that illuminate what happens when reading books becomes forbidden. Offering kids books, where reading is forbidden, might be the perfect strategy to turn reluctant readers into ardent readers. Imagine what your life would be like if you lived in a time and place where reading is a punishable offense.

~ Red Scarf Girl,: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, Ji-Li-Jiang
~ Stone Goddess, Minfong Ho
~ Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The following story caught my eye and clearly demonstrates that freedom of expression is a right we need to vigilantly guard. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703384204575509993408075302.html
Mr. Qiu grew up in a Shanghai neighborhood poor in amenities but rich in humanity. “You might not even have [indoor] toilet,” he says. “Whatever circumstance . . . [people there] were contented. Most families, they just sit outside, and they would talk: They tell stories, wave their fans—they enjoy life!”

Mr. Qiu loved books, he says, from an early age. “But those years, it could already be dangerous or at least politically incorrect, so my father kind of locked away all the books. But as kid, I had my ways of opening a lock, right? It’s really like the forbidden fruit: ‘You don’t want me to read it? I will read it!’ And it was fun.”

Mr.Qui is the author of Years of Red Dust: stories Old Shanghai. Forbidding kids to read  certain books might be just the impetus for them to read. Makes perfect sense to me.


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