Krista has visited the blog before and she was one of the first people I thought of when planning this week. Today, she's talking about effects that reading a book can have, especially when it's a book that someone doesn't want you to read.
Krista writes speculative fiction ranging from historical fantasy to science fiction, lives in Canada where she's slave to a pride of house cats, dreads selling shoes, and and has a history degree that she's finally putting to use with a forthcoming non-fiction reference book for authors.
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When I was a teenager, I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. My parents weren't readers and didn't know most of what I was reading. I'm grateful for that, as they would have been the types to ban books if they'd known what I was reading. In fact, I often think I wouldn't have become a writer if it wasn't for the incredible range of books I'd had exposure to as a kid.
I just did a look at the banned list. Many of the books I have fond memories about are in fact challenged or banned books in many American schools. I don't know if those bans and challenges came up here to Canada, too, but it still saddens me knowing that kids are missing out on some of my favourite memories from books.
In my Grade 11 literature class, we had a number of boys who hated reading, who hated literature, and who had no interest in learning. Then, we got to "Lord of the Flies". I will remember this one boy who stuttered and struggled to read aloud anytime he was called volunteering to read lines from the novel. Other boys volunteered to read different characters. A book that some people deemed "offensive" transformed a class of underachieving and disinterested minds into a class of learning and discussion.
We also read "Animal Farm" that year. For some reason, it appealed more to the girls of the class. I remember one particular girl (who'd failed English lit the previous year) crying in class over the horse. Crying over a book. What more could you ask for in a person who hated reading?
One of the boys smuggled in a copy of "Satanic Verses" because we wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I don't think I got to read more than a page because everyone wanted a piece of it.
I have seen books transform and brighten minds more than any other one single event, activity, or item. Every time I hear about a banned or challenged book, I think about those people in my class and wonder how, without those books, they might have gone their entire lives thinking there wasn't even one book that they liked.