Banned Books Week 2011

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. Roald Dahl’s The Witches. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The Harry Potter series. The Handmaid’s Tale. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The Where’s Waldo?series.

All of these diverse books have something in common, something serious and sickening and wrong. Some time in the past ten years, somewhere in the United States (oh yes, and in other countries, too) a person or an organization has tried to have these books and hundreds of others banned. Pulled from public libraries and forbidden in classrooms. Quashed. Book challengers cite explicit language, graphic sex, and extreme violence as reasons. Religious zealots hold book burnings to destroy fantasy books, equating them with the vilest of pornography as harmful to society. Reading Huckleberry Finn? Why, you might as well be looking at pictures of double amputees having carnal relations with Angora goats in Jello filled hot tubs!

Yes, there really are people that twisted and stupid. So, we want to remind you that September 24th to October 1st is Banned Books Week 2011. We want to remind you to think for yourselves. Remember, we’ll tell you if a book is badly written, or badly edited, or has a sadly lame, hackneyed plot and two-dimensional characters. But we’ll never tell you not to read a book because we think it’s dangerous to your mind or your soul. Exactly the opposite, in fact. We’ll track down the most offbeat, bizarre, and thought provoking fantasy and speculative fiction and bring it to your attention, and shout ‘You have to read this!’ from the rooftops. Because above all else, the reviewers and editors of Green Man and Sleeping Hedgehog value — no, prize — Ideas and Knowledge. Don’t ever let anyone take those treasures away from you, dear readers.

Now go on and check out the American Library Association’s Banned Book Week information. Go see how many challenged or banned books you have on your shelves. We hope there are a lot of them.

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