Sarah Dawson

Sarah Dawson

Imagine a world without Harry Potter. The first book was published 22 years ago and the series has sold over 400 million copies. That is no small feat. Not everyone loves Harry Potter, but it’s difficult to deny the impact it has had on our society.

Literature is more a part of fan and pop culture than ever before because the fans were so drawn into the world that they dressed up in costumes for midnight book releases, and it’s still quite common to hear fans of the series discuss which Hogwarts house they would be sorted into. The New York Times invented a Children’s Bestseller List after the first three books held the top three spots on the Bestseller List for over a year. Children’s and Young Adult literature exploded after Harry Potter, capitalizing on a huge group of eager readers.

The success of this series is incredible. What is astonishing is that these beloved titles are also some of the most challenged and banned books of all time; however, they’re certainly not the only ones.

Though their work varies in content and genre, popular authors like Stephen King, Toni Morrison, John Green, Mark Twain, Neil Gaiman and even Judy Blume have all written books that have been banned. The truth is that various titles are banned for several reasons. The list of these books and the authors who wrote them is long and can be shocking. However, given that people are different and hold different beliefs and points of view, it’s no wonder there is so much controversy surrounding what is published.

The controversy is not really what is troubling. Reading is a personal experience. Most books will be different, and are even intended to be, for every reader. This is something to celebrate! Our diversity is a strength. It means that there is a story for everyone and not everyone must enjoy the same ones. Books touch people in more ways than can be expressed. That is why Banned Book Week is important. It’s a way to educate people about First Amendment rights and censorship and to celebrate books that have been banned but have still left their mark on the world, much like Harry Potter.

The Owasso Library is having a Banned Books Buttons program on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 4-5 p.m. for tweens and teens discussing censorship, challenged and banned books, and the top banned books from last year. Participants will get to make a button to support banned books. No registration is necessary.