Sunday, September 30, 2012
Banned Books Week: 9/30-10/6
Today starts Banned Books Week: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Freedom to Read. There's always books we'd prefer not to read ourselves but taking the right away from others is a slippery, dangerous slope. And it's pertinent here at the blog because several fairy tales have been banned over the years, from the Grimms in general to tales in particular like Little Red Riding Hood--for having wine in her basket! Nevermind the more gruesome tales that are ignored by banners because they aren't as prominent.
During my years as a public librarian in California, I only had one book challenged by a patron and ironically it was fairy tale related. Only my coworkers knew about SurLaLune, so this was not related. I was quite simply the children's and YA librarian and had added the book to the collection.
What was the book? The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold by Francesca Lia Block. Now this book is not light reading and deals with difficult themes. I wouldn't recommend it to every teen I know but it was sitting on the shelf next to the Gossip Girls series among others. My first reaction was total shock. Fortunately, I kept my guffaw muffled when I realized which book was upsetting the patron in the YA section. And refrained from saying, "You think this is rough, try this (fill in the blank several times)." I didn't handle the situation very well--it was a strange day and a strange incident--but it was well enough that the complaint went no farther for which I have always been thankful.
Anyway, read a fairy tale this week and you'll be celebrating Banned Books Week! And thank the librarians who fight to keep the books on the shelves where you can find them. It's not an easy job, emotionally or financially!