September 28, 2015 03:13 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
Image courtesy: The American Library Association
As both a reader and a writer, I stand with the American Library Association (ALA) this week in support of banned books. The ALA instituted Banned Books Week in 1982 to celebrate our right to freely choose and access books without censorship. While not every book may be intended for every reader, this celebration reminds us that each reader should have the right to choose for him or herself what to read. The freedom to read is a basic cornerstone of a democratic society that shouldn't be taken for granted. Books contain a wealth of information, which when accessed can expand our minds and hearts beyond our small corner of the world. There is much that can be learned from books if we take the time to read. Thanks to libraries around the world, those books are available at our fingertips, so long as others don't try to take that right away. Even when the efforts to ban or challenge books are well-intentioned, they can be detrimental to our society, because censorship takes away our right as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. That's why I encourage my readers to stand with me this week in support of banned books.
I've personally read several books that have been included on the ALA's most banned/challenged books lists, and so far, every one of them has been phenomenally good. There isn't a single one I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend. So each year during Banned Books Week, I plan to celebrate by highlighting one of these books and giving away a copy.
To kick off my inaugural year of celebrating banned books, I've chosen an American classic that won the Pulitzer Prize. First published July 11, 1960, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird explores the issues of prejudice and racial inequality through the innocent eyes of it's nine-year-old protagonist, Scout Finch. She's a delightful first-person narrator who lends a surprising degree of levity to a story that is oftentimes serious and controversial. While I adored Scout and her brother, Jem, for me the stand-out character in this book is her father, Atticus, who is one of my biggest literary crushes. Atticus is a wonderful father who leads his children by quiet example and who teaches them to think critically for themselves. He's also a brilliant attorney and an honorable and humble man who fights for what's right no matter the cost. The world would definitely be a better place with more men like Atticus Finch.
Over the fifty years since it's initial publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has generated a great deal of controversy across the spectrum, which of course, is why it's a regular fixture on the ALA's most banned/challenged books lists. As recently as 2011, it was ranked at #10 on the list of most banned/challenged book for that year with the reasons for the challenges listed as offensive language and racism. While I agree that these elements do exist in the book, I think that if we open our minds and look at it in the proper historical perspective, it becomes less offensive. Not to mention, it is my humble belief that occasionally literary works need to be offensive to get their point across.
If you're still not convinced, here's a passage from my original review, analyzing the potentially objectionable content: It does contain some profanities, mostly mild, but also a couple of more moderate ones including taking the Lord's name in vain twice. There are a number of instances where the derogatory "n" word is used for African Americans, but given the time and setting of the book, it never seemed overdone or out of place to me. There is also the mature subject matter of a black man being wrongly accused of raping a white girl, but since it is all told through the eyes of a nine year-old child, everything has a certain air of innocence to it, with nothing ever really being spelled out explicitly. In spite of this potentially objectionable content, I still feel that the book is fully appropriate for high school level students. In my opinion, the positive role model that Atticus presents and the positive messages contained within the book's pages, far outweigh any possible detractors.
So, there you have it. That's my take on this wonderful piece of classic literature. If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on the book, you can check out my full review on The Hope Chest Reviews. I personally think it would be an absolute travesty to ban a book as thought-provoking as this one, and in fact, would encourage everyone, teens and up, to read it at least once. That's why I'm giving away a copy. Keep reading to learn how you can win To Kill a Mockingbird for your own library.
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
If you would like to win a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird to see how wonderful it is for yourself, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook or print copy of the book. If the winner chooses an eBook, I will gift it to them via the eBook retailer of their choice (Amazon, B & N, or OmniLit). If the winner chooses a print copy, I will have it mailed directly to them via Amazon. Good luck!
International Entrants: You are welcome to enter my contest, but please note that not all eBooks are available in all countries due to copyright restrictions. If this is the case and you've chosen an e-book, Amazon does offer an option to trade for a gift card (I'm not sure about B & N or OmniLit). If you choose print, I can mail it to you via the Amazon website that services your country, pending availability and cost. Otherwise I will mail it to you via Amazon U.S.'s standard international shipping, but it may take up to six weeks to arrive, and I won't have the capability of tracking the package.