I ran across this story the other day and kept the tab open and I continued to revisit it, learning more each time. It originated from the Readers’ Digest site.
Growing up, books and reading were big around our house. Every Saturday morning, my mother took my brother and me to the town library to get books to last for the upcoming week.
I can remember being fascinated by the reference section but, of course, we couldn’t book those out so we eventually moved to the area that was age-appropriate. I can also remember being hooked on Hardy Boy books and read them all. At the time, these were very popular and it wasn’t uncommon that the next book in the series was not available.
Those were shelved in a particular section of the library and we were given free range of it. There also was an adult section that we were told that we couldn’t go in to. Now, for a child of that age, you can imagine the curiosity that that inspired.
The neat thing about the library was that, as long as we stayed in our area, we could check out any book that we wanted. Seemingly, there were no restrictions at all. I can recall basically trying out books by various authors and there were some I liked and some I didn’t. It never dawned on me that, other than by age, there were other factors at work determining what was available and what wasn’t.
School was a different beast. For me, the difference between school and the public library was big. At school, we were told what we had to read; at the library we were less restricted.
I enjoyed working through the article identifying books that I had read, mostly at school but some for recreation or to meet some English class quota. Later on, the selections were just reading for fun. Titles that come back to mind over the decades from this article include:
- The Wizard of Oz
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- The Sun Also Rises
- The Catcher in the Rye
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Lord of the Flies
- The Great Gatsby
- The Grapes of Wrath
- Of Mice and Men
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Lord of the Rings
- The Hunger Games
To be honest, the concept of banned or challenged books really was foreign to me. I never appreciated that there were big forces at work ensuring we had access to these books. Speaking of foreign, I recognize that the original article originated from south of the border. So, I went looking for a similar listing of Canadian works and found this.
I know that, having worked with Teacher-Librarians over the years, all of the research and energy that they put into making sure that their collections serve students in their learning community. I also know that preferences can vary from school to school.
But, for this moment in time, it was just a nice look back and think about the reading done in my past.
I did get a book for this Christmas and it sits just to the right of me. I’m glad that my mother instilled a love of reading in me although I don’t think that she could have foreseen that it has changed over the years to include so much online.
And yet, there’s just something about holding a book.