I grew up in a family of readers, where discussions about books and literature were commonplace at any age. I can’t remember a time where reading and devouring books was not a part of my life. Because of this, I fail to understand why people can allow any book to be banned. Sure there may be books out there that I probably won’t read or that I may disagree with, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think other people should read them.
When I was quite young, my mom would books before I read them to double check the content and make sure it was suitable – I think this lasted until I was about nine years old and I was reading books too quickly for her to be able to enjoy any of her own. I was always encouraged to read everything, even if I didn’t understand it all, I would keep a notebook of the words or phrases I didn’t understand and then my mom would go through them with me and explain them (this is part of the reason I still pronounce certain words incorrectly – I only ever knew them from reading). This method worked wonderfully and I remember anticipating reading a book or where the plot would take me and how wonderful it was to be able to use my imagination and learn all these new things. I still feel this way and am always searching for new books to explore.
Back to being in a family of readers; while there was some effort to ensure that the content was suitable for our ages, there was more effort in ensuring that we understood the content. That we questioned what we read, that we were exposed to different types of societies, different cultures, different families, different ways of thinking, and different sets of beliefs. We weren’t encouraged to only read things that mimicked our own lives and understanding, we were encouraged to broaden our understanding and to recognize that just because something is written down does not make it fact, and even if something is fact it does not mean that we need to copy or emulate it.
This is why I am always infuriated when books are banned. Instead of banning great works of literature and art, take the opportunity to discuss it. Yes you may find it offensive, sure it may have some sexual content or swear words, and yes there may be racial undertones: but banning these books is like saying these things do not exist or have never been a part of history. It makes these books all the more important, if your perspective and life cannot withstand some criticism or opposition then what is it worth and how secure are you in it?
Personally, I think that the books, stories, and parts of history that are removed from the public eye, erased, or banned are those that are the most important to understanding the story of humanity. I think it’s important to read and face the things that scare people and I thank my family for always encouraging me to read.