Saturday, September 23, 2006

Warning: Books Can Be Dangerous!

Today is the first day of Banned Books Week, an annual event near and dear to our Vromanian hearts. Sponsored by both the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, Banned Books Week strives to bring attention to titles that have been removed from libraries, challenged in school curricula, or limited to a "select" group of readers. In short, Banned Books Week celebrates the right of readers to read whatever we darn well please.

Why are books banned (or, more commonly, challenged)? Usually, a parent objects to some aspect of a book's content - sexuality, coarse language, violence, racism, witchcraft, and "defiance of authority" in the storyline are commonly cited complaints - and wants it removed from a list of required student reading; sometimes someone will try to have the book not only taken out of the classroom, but from the school or public library as well. It's one thing to object to your own child reading a particular book; it's quite another to decide that a book is unfit for anyone else's consumption. Book banning is censorship, plain and simple.

We at Vroman's feel strongly that readers are capable of deciding for themselves what is appropriate reading material. (Kids, of course, do benefit from the guiding hand of knowledgeable adults, who can steer them towards age-appropriate material. But our employees aren't going to tell children what they can or cannot read.)

If you're in the main store this week, check out our Banned Books Week displays both downstairs and up in the kids' department; our Hastings Ranch store has a big display, too. You'll see many familiar culprits featured (The Catcher in the Rye, The Joy of Sex, The Communist Manifesto, The Grapes of Wrath) as well as a few that may surprise you (The Lorax, Little House in the Big Woods). Treat yourself to one of these books and see how enjoyable "dangerous" reading can be.

For more information on Banned Books Week, take a look here.

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