When most of us think of censoring books, we think of the book burnings of the Middle Ages. The books were deemed heretical, and were, therefore, consigned to the flames. St. Patrick, celebrated with shamrocks and green beer, burned many precious manuscripts in Ireland due to their pagan nature. Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More burned many heretical tracts in Henry VIII’s England. The Inquisition did the same on the continent. It wasn’t just Catholics, though. Protestants were just as quick to burn books, and people, they considered damaging to their “True Faith”.
As shocking as it may sound to the modern reader, there are still people who would ban books. Who would keep the pleasure and knowledge found within these volumes to open and inquiring minds.
Many beloved titles have been challenged for whatever reason.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
These are only a few of the hundreds of books that others try to tell us we cannot read. And it’s not just classics. There are many more modern titles. The entire Harry Potter series, for example. R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series for another.
Every year, readers take to time to celebrate these books, and to challenge the challengers of these “Banned Books.” Banned Books Week is all about the freedom to open any book you want to read, because you want to read it. Because you want to know, see, and feel. Its about the freedom to turn the page.