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Banned Books Week 2009

September 26−October 3, 2009 is banned books week in the US. This week you should be celebrating the freedom you have as an American to be able to read any literature that you so choose. It is to teach and celebrate First Amendment rights, the power of literature and free society. I'm sometimes unsure of how to write about this, I'm not officially an American Citizen as of yet, but my son is. So excuse me if I say "you" instead of "we" at some points.

This is something very close to my heart, not just because my husband is one of the many who serve in the army and fight for freedom, but also because I believe in the First Amendment, freedom of intellect - the freedom to access information and express ideas, I am looking toward training to be a librarian and finally of course, the fact that I love to read.

I do not believe that anyone else has the right to restrict books or information that I, or others, would like to access, or to have books removed from schools and libraries because they do not personally agree with them. We are a diverse people, we all have different standards, morals, ideas. That is the beauty of a free society and it is something that must be preserved.

The Color Purple, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Clockwork Orange, Catcher in the Rye,The Great Gatsby,To Kill a Mockingbird and Ulysses, wonderful examples of amazing and teachable literature (and books that I have both read and studied extensively in school at some point, be it highschool level or degree level) that have been challenged, restricted, censored or banned in the US at some point since their publication. I would not like my son to grow up in a world where he is not permitted to read books such as these, and other pieces of classic literature.

Yet I do understand why some people would want certain books restricted from libraries. They worry for their children, books such as Harry Potter or And Tango Makes Three do not line up with their views or what they would like to expose their children to. That is ok, I do not personally agree, but as a mother myself I understand wanting to protect your children from what you do not think is appropriate for their age or for your personal family values. Removing those books from schools and libraries does not solve anything. You should monitor what your own children are reading and censor within your own household as you see fit, but you do not have the right to tell me what my child can and cannot read, regardless of seemingly good intentions.

“While not every book is right for each reader, every reader has the right to choose reading materials for themselves and their families and should be able to find those materials in libraries, classrooms, and bookstores. Our goal is to protect one of our most precious fundamental rights—our freedom to read." Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

Censorship is dangerous, it is our diversity that is what makes America the country that it is today.

Most frequently challenged books of 2008

National Coalition Against Censorship

American Booksellers foundation for free expression

The Kids' right to read project

Top 50 banned books that everyone should read

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I am a 24 year old British stay at home mother to a two year old boy. Married to a U.S. soldier and currently living in Germany.

I have seen the Vatican from the very top of St Peter's Basilica, the mud in the World War I trenches outside Ypres. I have walked through Montmartre side streets bustling with people in the evening, gotten lost in the streets of Greenwich Village NYC, run through cornfields on the Welsh border and sat outside with a cup of tea watching fireflies in the fields of the outer Chicago suburbs.

I have held the hands of others through addiction, fear, suicide, despair and come out the other side. I have left everything behind to begin anew.
I have fought mental illness and walked through snow in the mountains of the lake district, England. I have explored the morgue in the bowels of an abandoned hospital on a summer evening, climbed to the top of scaffolding on the outside of a five floor warehouse to look at the city lights of Nottingham at night and I have watched the sun setting on the Texas horizon.

I have held my son's tiny hand through the plastic window on an isolette in the NICU ward. Walked, speaking only in whispers, through the catacombs beneath the ground on the outskirts of Rome and seen the fireworks over Heidelberg castle.