Possibly because I’ve been typing up all those banned book notices for the other blog, I have become a bit obsessed with banned books and the results of banning books. One of the things I’ve been turning over in my head is the way banning a book impacts sales — it guarantees them.

So, it has always seemed to me an odd paradox. If you want a book to never be read and disappear from the face of the earth, why on earth would you create a media maelstrom and loads of publicity? This drives curiosity about the book which drives sales. By telling people that they shouldn’t read a book it almost always guarantees that they will.

If I had a book I didn’t want people to read, I would start a word of mouth campaign telling people why it wasn’t worth reading. Some people might read it, but most will assume you know what you’re talking about. A negative word of mouth campaign is insidious and almost impossible to combat. If one of my friends tells me that a book isn’t worth reading, I’m less likely to read it. If someone in the news tells me I shouldn’t read it, I go find the nearest copy.

What I’m trying to get at, is that I don’t understand the point of trying to get a book banned. It always has the opposite effect of what the banners intended, and it almost always puts the banners in a negative light. No one likes to have someone else tell them which of their freedoms (in this case freedom of the press) should be restricted.

I think we should all start a campaign for the inclusion of all books regardless of your opinion of them. Any book that makes it through the arduous publishing process deserves its place in the market. It may not be a book you like or approve of, but that just means that you weren’t the intended audience.

I challenge every reader out in the kiddie-litosphere to read at least one banned book before the end of Banned Book Week on October 3. Then feature that book on your blog. If possible, try to pick a book you might not even like all that much. After all, there probably is someone out there who would appreciate the book. If you need ideas for banned books, check out my daily listings at BookKids Recommends or the ALA’s Banned Books Week site.

Read. Post. Fight Censorship in all its forms.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.
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