LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read, and a Lynchburg book store is encouraging residents to “hold a space for all views, opinions, and conclusions.”
Givens Books & Little Dickens is displaying commonly banned books, which include Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” and the Harry Potter series.
“’Harry Potter,’ I kind of expected that,” said Lynchburg resident Michelle Green, as she looked over a display of commonly banned books. “‘The Giver,’ great book. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ a great book. All books that I read personally.”
Banned Books Week takes place during the last week of September.
“It’s to hold space for free thought, anyone’s views, self-expression, things like that,” said Krissy Mitchell, an employee at the Lynchburg book store Givens Books & Little Dickens. “Things that are essentially being censored and why you should not censor them. You should celebrate them instead.”
Over the years, classic novels like “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Color Purple” have been banned or challenged in different communities.
Modern selections regularly join their ranks.
WFXR asked people to react to the 11 most challenged books of 2018, which the American Library Association compiled.
“’Thirteen Reasons Why,’ around teen suicide, made the list,” said Mitchell. “That is unfortunately a thing that does happen, and should it not be available to anyone just for those reasons?”
According to the ALA, most of the top 11 challenged books, including the Captain Underpants series, feature LGBTQ+ themes or characters.
“’George’ by Alex Gino,” said Mitchell, “a children’s novel made it to the list because it features a transgender character, according to the ALA. There [are] transgender people. Why should we censor their books?”
“Just because it has a transgender character? I would say that’s pretty interesting, especially with how more accepting society has become,” said Green.
The week is a chance to celebrate the freedom to read.
“There is a quote that says a book should never be denied to a man that has the wisdom to understand it,” said Mitchell.