Friday, September 30, 2011

I Dare You

My mom and dad taught my brothers and me to love and value books. They read to us, even after we could read by ourselves. We talked about books. We quoted great lines from books. We went to the library once a week.

Oh no, you're probably thinking. They probably ate wheat germ and lived twenty miles down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

Um ... no. We ate Hamburger Helper and ate Kool-aid popsicles, lived in suburbia, and watched plenty of TV, including some heavy doses of All My Children. We could tell you about the latest Pop Tart flavor, what was happening to Erica Kane, and who Marcia Brady's latest crush was.

But we also read. And the best part of it all, was we were allowed to choose our own books. If my brother, Tom, wanted to delve into a little history and memorize all of the presidents in order (at around age six), my parents didn't judge. If Tim wanted to check out six books on football, my mom helped him carry them to the car. And when I wanted to read a book by an author whose work was being challenged, my mom helped me find the book. Some places weren't allowing Judy Blume on their shelves. But my mom made sure to get her books in my hands.

We learned to hear what others had to say. We learned to listen, before we spoke.

It is Banned Books Week. Many of the books that have been challenged over the years are from people who haven't even taken the time to read the book in its entirety. They often take a word or a phrase out of context and decide that nobody else should read the book.

I can't think of anything more terrifying than if book banners ruled the world. What if we'd never been able to see Alice fall down the rabbit hole? What if we'd never been able to Go Ask Alice? What if Alice Walker had never been able to tell us Celie's story?

Go read a little Judy Blume. Go listen to Allen Ginsberg howl. Go read about Scout and Atticus and Boo Radley. Go get a little Annie on your mind.

I dare you.

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