Banned Books Week, established by the American Library Association, is a week of celebrating our First Amendment right and the freedom to read whatever we choose to read and a time to reflect on the damage that censoring or banning books can cause. I don’t talk about my personal causes a lot on Pretty Opinionated because it’s not really that type of blog, but I am incredibly against censorship and a very strong supporter of the First Amendment, so I’m making an exception in honor of Banned Books Week.

I understand that everyone has very different tastes when it comes to their preferred reading material. While I’m pretty open and very difficult to offend, I recognize that others may object to swearing, steamy sex scenes, violence, and other themes. I also understand that parents may not want their children reading certain material. There are probably books out there that I wouldn’t want my son reading at age six. However, I feel that it is my responsibility to teach him right from wrong and to guide his entertainment choices, not the school’s and certainly not the public library’s. Everyone should be able to make a choice for themselves and their own children about what is appropriate. Those who are concerned that a book may contain subject matter that they want their child to avoid should read it before their child does, or at least read reviews on the book (preferably on a blog, because bloggers rock) and make the best decision for their family. But they shouldn’t try to  make a decision for me and my family. It’s That is crossing the line into “intrusive busy body” territory, and it’s just not going to fly with me.

When a person tries to have a book removed from a public library on the ground that it offends them, they need to be told to go get a new hobby other than trying to control the lives of others and sent on their merry way. There is no reason to prevent another person from reading a particular book other than a strong desire to control everyone else’s thoughts and lives. I personally am not a fan of books that present witches in a negative light or religious books that condemn Pagans, but I’m not out there trying to strip them from all the shelves. Who has that kind of time anyway? Wouldn’t that time be better spend educating their own children about why a particular book may not be for them?

Bottom line- No one has the right to restrict another person’s basic First Amendment rights, which means no one has a right to tell me or you what we can and cannot read.  I can go on about this for hours (and, despite my usually  polite personality,  get pretty rambunctious about it), but I’ll spare you the rest of my soapbox speech.

If you are interested in learning more about this very important week in the book world, visit the American Library Association or the brand-new Banned Books Week website for tons of great resources, including graphics that you can use on your own site, lists of current and past banned or challenged books, and more. Check out the Mapping Censorship section and see if your town has any cases involving banned or challenged books.