Who Are You To Tell Me What I Can Read?

One thing that always sticks in my craw is when a library (or anyone for that matter) bans a book. Exactly who are they to tell me what I can and cannot read?

These “well meaning” people are not my parents, guardians, or any other figure of authority over me. I have free will last time I checked. Just because you don’t like a book and/or don’t want to read it or think your children shouldn’t read it does not mean that I do not want to read it or that I don’t want to let my kids read it.

After looking over a few lists of banned and challenged books, it would seem I am either going to Hell or I’m in violation of some ordinance or law that says I am required to read only what I am told is appropriate for me to read.

Examples of books that have been banned or challenged that I’ve read include:

  • A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Blubber by Judy Blume
  • The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (#1) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (#2) by J. K. Rowling
  • Cujo by Stephen King
  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  • Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

The list goes on – I’ve read a lot of books that people apparently feel the need to challenge. I was assigned to read A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck as a school project. My mom was dubious about my reading it because we’d literally had a death in our family just a couple of weeks prior to the assignment being given. But she let me make my own choice about whether to read the book or whether I wanted to read a different book (my teacher was aware of the death in my family and had offered a different book, which I declined). She let me make my own choice. She did not run to the school district, the public library, or anyone else stating the book needed to be gotten rid of. She let me choose for myself whether or not to read it.

In a way I understand – you don’t want to expose your children or yourself to books that fall outside your morals and standards. But to be honest, it isn’t your right to make that decision for others. You have no right to challenge the book on behalf of other people – or to push for it to be banned. You have no right to take away their freedom of choice.  Yes, by all means, tell your children that you do not wish for them to read that book. By all means, if the book was assigned for a school project, ask the teacher if your child can read a different book. You have that right. But you do not have the right to demand the school library or public library remove the book and ban it because you don’t like it. You do not have the right to make another parent’s choice for them.

Banning books is blatantly wrong. No one has the right to tell me what I can and cannot read except for me. No one has the right to determine what books my child may read but me. And if my child is old enough to voice an opinion, then my child’s opinion weighs into that as well. My mom hated horror books, but she bought them for me and let me check them out of the library because I liked them.

Bottom line is: Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot read?


4 thoughts on “Who Are You To Tell Me What I Can Read?

  1. Pingback: Morning Meanderings…. Having Your Cake… | Book Journey

  2. It should definitely be our right to choose what we read! Banning books has not succeeded, in the end, because when a ban like that is lifted, there will be crowds flocking to those very books.

    Aside from that, though, the books that are usually banned are especially relevant to real life…and that frightens some people.

    Thanks for sharing.


  3. With you all the way, no one has the right to demand we don’t read something. My philosophy is fairly simple in that if I find a book offensive I don’t read it but to ban others from doing so is soooo wrong.


  4. Well said! I’m all about informing others about controversial content in books, but I would never dream of telling others what they can and cannot read. Just this summer, my friend’s daughter was curled up with Looking for Alaska by John Green. I pulled my friend aside and informed her about the controversial content- particularly regarding oral sex- in the novel. She had no idea what was in the book and appreciated my input. I didn’t say her daughter shouldn’t read it- I just informed her. She and her daughter made the choice. That’s how it should be.


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