September 24-30th marked Banned Books Week in 2017. Every year, Banned Books week celebrates the freedom to read by highlighting books that have previously been banned or disputed in libraries and schools around the country. As conservatives and liberty-loving individuals, we should celebrate the right to read as an inherent part of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech applies not only to the authors and what they write but also the readers who seek out that material. While some banned books are a little more controversial than others, and while we may not agree with some of the material in those books, we can all agree that banning a single book is in violation of the First Amendment.
Some of the most popular “banned books” are books that every single person should read. They are pieces of great literature that have inspired generations of readers and opened the debate on serious topics including race, big government, free speech, and what it means to be a child. If you haven’t read these ten banned books, add them to your bookshelf ASAP.
Beloved by Toni MorrisonSet against the backdrop of slavery, Beloved is a captivating novel that will weave a spell around the reader and draw you in. While the subject material can be a little rough for younger audiences, it is an important, well-written book that is critically acclaimed and deserves to be read.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. RowlingThe Harry Potter series has often been banned for its fantasy elements and encouraging children to be “wizards” no matter how difficult that might be. These books have inspired a generation of children to love reading and are therefore necessities for every library in this day and age. The Harry Potter series will make you fall in love with reading and dive into the world Rowling has created.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyAn important fiction work that looks at the horrors of a totalitarian world that would burn books, it is very ironic that some libraries then go to ban Fahrenheit 451. It’s a short novel that carries quite a punch. The book should be read by anyone that loves free speech.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankHow could anyone object to the writing of Anne Frank, a young girl that died in the Holocaust? This diary has become the way that many children first learn about the Holocaust, and therefore it will always be important to our bookshelves. Even if you’re not a child and know all about the Holocaust, this is a must read.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
A childhood classic that apparently encourages rebellion too much and might scare children, this Maurice Sendak picture-book has been made into a movie that shows the necessity of coming home and encourages creativity in children.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThough complete with a less-than-loved hero, Catcher in the Rye is THE book to read about rebellious teenagers and finding yourself in the world. It’s no wonder people have tried to ban it then. Even if you’re past your teenage rebellion, you can still find merit in the Catcher in the Rye, a perennial book.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. WhiteThe fact that people would be so offended by Fern’s can-do attitude and talking animals shouldn’t be surprising, but it always rubs me the wrong way. Charlotte’s Web is a wonderfully written book that brings the outdoors to life for children and humanizes animals in a way no other book has ever done. It also deals seriously with the concept of death and shows how our legacy will live on in our children.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodNow made into a popular television show, it’s amazing to realize that people are still protesting it. A dystopian look at a world with limited fertility, the Handmaid’s Tale is well-written and captivating, whether you think it’s an imminent future or not.
1984 by George Orwell1984 has rocketed back to the best-seller list as many people view it as a critique of the current administration. While that’s a bit of a reach, 1984 is a book that everyone, left and right, should read. Big Brother has become a cultural icon and 1984 is a crucial look at what big government can do to its citizens.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeColor me confused about why people want to block books that deal with racism directly and beautifully. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the first “classics” that children read and has no doubt inspired millions to become lawyers themselves. Atticus Finch is one of the most beloved characters of all time. If you give children a chance to read this book, they’ll see why.