Did you know that on August 14, 1457 the first book ever printed was published by a German astrologer named Faust? According to my sources, he was thrown into jail after trying to sell copies of the book in Paris because people thought that having so many identical copies of one book could only mean that Faust was dealing with the devil…
Although this happened well over 500 years ago, can we really claim that our society has progressed past such closed-minded naivety? Take banned books, for instance. It’s a more modern example of the same obstinate ignorance. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has been on the banned book list for many moons now, the reason being “offensive language and racism.” This book was written in 1960, when racism and segregation were still quite prevalent, especially in Southern cultures. The best thing about this book, though, is the way it highlights racism; Atticus Finch becomes the local pariah after he elects to advocate for an African-American man accused of raping a white female citizen of the town. Lee showcases the racism in this book in a way that mocks the stupidity of narrow-minded racists. The reason for which this book has been banned is the exact reason it should be read by students of all races, ages, and cultures.
That’s the problem with our society. It’s easier for parents and teachers to “fight the good fight” and have a book banned than it is to actually teach each child to be an open-minded and thoughtful individual and let them make the decision for themselves. Hopefully, if you’ve raised your child well, they will be able to read a book containing the infamous “n-word” without it evoking some racist rage from within them. Dozens of meaningful and thought-provoking books have been shunned from schools and onto the Banned Book List; books like the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, 1984 by George Orwell, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald and innumerable others suffer the consequences of our society’s ignorance.
Banned Book Week is coming up and we have a few from their list on our own list so you can count on us reading one or two, and as always, suggestions are most welcome! In the meantime, we are finishing The Night Circus this Saturday and then enjoy one of Poe’s many short stories, “Murder in the Rue Mourge,” before starting Pride and Prejudice. The expertly made schedule for the remainder of the month, courtesy of HVA, can be found on the “Reading Lists” tab so feel free to follow along!