This young girl is my hero. Care 2 Make a Difference recently published an article about a school girl who is running an informal library out of her school locker. The “library” of 62 books, all of which are banned by her Catholic school. The books she lends out to her classmates are titles such as The Catcher in the Rye, Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and Animal Farm.
I was personally aghast at the list. I’ve read all those books. In fact, I had to read them either in high school or in university. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the city where I grew up, the Catholic and public schools were integrated. So even though I went to St. Patrick’s High School and Saint Mary’s University, they were both considered public universities, though there was still the odd nun or Jesuit teaching here and there.
Now, apparently, things have changed and these titles are now banned in some school districts. So one student, who goes by the avatar name of Rekochan, brought a copy of the Catcher in the Rye to school, just to see what would happen. She got in a bit of trouble for it and that stirred some interest. A classmate asked to borrow the book, so she lent it to him. She started bringing more and more books to school and lending them out.
The result is that you have school kids who are suddenly motivated to read things like The Canterbury Tales. I mean, seriously? I’d hazard a guess and say that anyone who’s even attempted to read Chaucer’s classic work will agree that it’s not exactly light reading. Even if the English is modernized, it’s not an easy read. And these kids are hungry to read it.
I say, “Yahoo!” Let’s start a reading revolution! To the school boards and religious fundamentalists who want books banned because they contradict the Bible, I say, “Go ahead and ban them!” Today’s kids are smart — smarter than we give them credit for, in many cases. Yet, they’re just as rebellious as we were… Oh, and that sense of “entitlement” that Gen Y’ers and Millennials have that drives their parents crazy? Yes, that sense of entitlement is driving them to say, “You think you can tell me what to read? To heck with you! I’ll read what I darn well please!”
And they quietly sneak away to read a forbidden copy of Paradise Lost on their iPad as they snuggle under the covers.
Could it be that reading will be this generation’s revolution?
God, I hope so.
Related post: Books Banned in Canada (a partial list)
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.