It’s always a little stunning to me that school boards and parents and other people with all the power spend their precious evenings at meetings agreeing to, among all things, ban books from schools. Books! Dirty, dirty blasphemous books. As if kids aren’t exposed to dirty blasphemy all the time. As if kids can’t cope with a little dirty blasphemy! As if composing a list of dirty blasphemous books isn’t one step away from handing them said reading material.
When a high school girl, who goes by her online avatar “Nekochan,” got hold of a list of books banned from her Catholic school, she turned the empty locker next to her into a secret banned books library. Now, kids who never even read much before, a turning the pages of Catcher in the Rye, The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and Animal Farm.
Wow, now that I think about it. Banned books are sorta great for education.
Anyway, we don’t know much about Nekochan, except that she attended a private Catholic and was appalled when her school released “a long list of books we’re not supposed to read.” When a boy heard she had read Catcher in the Rye and that it was supposed to be good but had been banned, she loaned him her copy. Other kids heard and soon her locker overflowed with books. So she expanded to the locker next to hers and has 62 books in her library.
Nekochan knews that she could get in a ton of trouble, and she wasn’t sure if the library was the right thing to do. She wrote into an online advice column to ask if it’s OK to do what she’s doing.
The short answer: yes, it was very OK for her to do this. She wrote that, though kids could go to the local library to check out these titles, many have parents who wouldn’t allow it. “I think that people should have open minds. Most of the books were banned because they contained information that opposed Catholisism.”
Nekochan wrote seeking advice a few years ago, so I have to wonder if she got caught. And if she did, whether her patrons rallied around her. I also wonder if she passed the library along to some other underground awesome reader/free speech advocate. Or if the folks at her Catholic school realized that by banning Candide, for example, they’re really just asking kids to read it.
Photo: Crazy Tales 562 via flickr