Banned Books Week: Why it Matters

If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably noticed that I've been a bit excited about celebrating Banned Books Week. It is partially because it's the one week a year that's all about reading, which for a book nerd like me, is pretty exciting all on its own. It's also important, however, to spread awareness that censorship is still very present in today's society.  Books are still often challenged in schools and public libraries for a multitude of reasons. But what's the big deal? I mean, after all, you can still go to your local bookstore or the internet to buy said "banned book" with no consequences, right?
Reading has always been a passion for me. I was raised believing in the power and magic of the written word. Books, in all societies, across history, are an essential part of shaping culture. Because of their form, they have the ability to deeply tackle issues that would be otherwise inaccessible to the general public. Each art has it's strength (these are total opinions, on my part); visual arts have the ability to evoke emotion in an instant; plays and movies have the ability to quickly transport us into other's lives; dance evokes emotion and the beauty of the human body; music affects us on a deep level, bringing a multitude of personal emotions to the surface. Each one of these mediums often tackles the same themes, but they achieve this in very different ways. My favorite thing about reading is that it often teaches you truths without you even realizing it happened. The magic of reading is that each book offers each individual who reads it a different truth. Every person brings their own history and experience and therefore gets something different out of the same book than any other person. Censoring this, like any art, is trying to deny people the right to knowledge and whatever truth they may find.

Censorship is based on fear. Fear that people will acknowledge what the world trys to hide. Fear that it will cause children to "grow up too fast". Fear that it will cause change. Fear of dealing with the uncomfortable, darker side of our world. But censoring these things does nothing to change them; it simply buries them deeper and gives them more power. Banned Books Week is about reading, yes; but mostly it's about stopping censorship and putting a stop to the fear of dealing with who we are as individuals; societies; communities; and even just as mankind. So, read a banned book and show those that would censor great books because of discomfort that knowledge is the only true power.