This week, the week of September 22nd to September 29, is Banned Books Week.
This is the description that the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (what an awesome thing) has on their website:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
I’m going to do posts this week about banned books. Some of the ones that have been banned and are still banned will surprised you, or maybe not if you’re more cynical than me.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the one I’m going to mention today.
It was challenged at the high school level, because it deals with “drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, and abuse.” Because, you know, teens never encounter any of those things.
Stephen Chbosky’s story is one that will feel familiar to many readers, because anyone who says being a teen was an entirely joyous, problem-free experience is lying. A lot.
The book is written as a series of letters by a boy using the pseudonym “Charlie”, to an unknown recipient. It’s his first year of high school, and he is starting it without his best friend, who killed himself the previous summer.
Charlie has to navigate the minefield of finding new friends, dealing with loss, relationships with girls, family tensions, the pressure of popularity, the temptations of drugs and alcohol… you know, adolescence.
I enjoyed the book a great deal, despite the memories of high school. Teen readers have also told me they enjoyed it, particularly the interesting, introspective ones.
When you’re a teen, feeling like someone else out there understands you, has felt how you feel, can be really important. This is a book that needs to stay on the shelves.
Also, telling teens that a book has been banned is a great way to get them to read it. Believe me, it works all the time.
Happy forbidden reading!