This week is Banned Book Week, a moment when libraries, bookstores and readers stop and pay attention to the fact that reading what we chose is a right that must be protected. Challenges to books are widespread, over 500 were reported last year, and occur across the nation. Previously we posted about the activities centered around Banned Book Week.
A couple of years ago, my son entered an essay contest during Banned Book Week advocating the importance of books like The Perks of a Wallflowerby Stephen Chbosky. He won the contest! Here is his essay, my favorite part is when he points out that it is better to learn some things through a book rather than by experience:
The challenging of Stephen Choboskys’ novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is unwarranted because the book accurately talks about issues that plague teens everywhere. Before reading the novel over the weekend, I did not know about the different actual effects of drugs like LSD and pot, and under what circumstances they would do such damaging things. The character Charlie is well developed in his correspondence to the unknown recipient. The reader gets the sense that they can understand why Charlie would smoke and do drugs. It was a real eye opener to me, and the novel was an insight into what desperate and ignorant teens actually do. Charlie’s friends, including Patrick, Sam, and his sister are not portrayed as perfect characters, but they always are there when Charlie needs them, and they are very real in the sense that they talk about their place in the world and make big and small mistakes.
Many people would miss out on the education about sex, drugs, and alcohol that no teen will learn in health class in school. Besides, if teens don’t learn this way, the other way to learn is to actually experiment with the substances, which is generally illegal. When you take away books like these, you take away the safe learning of teens that would otherwise damage themselves for a long time afterwards. I did not know about this side of teen culture before reading this book, and now I have a better view of what actually happens when you smoke, drink, or do drugs. Do not ban this book.