Books Are Not the Enemy by Patty Blount

February is all about love and as I write this, it appears to be all about book banning, which I hate with every fiber of my being.

Books are uniquely portable magic, said Stephen King. There is no friend as loyal as a book, said Hemingway. A book is a dream you hold in your hand, said Neil Gaiman. The more you read, the more you know, the more places you'll go, so says Dr. Suess. 

And districts across this country are banning books in numbers not seen since World War II, when Hitler tried this same tactic. Extremists are concerned that certain books are indoctrinating their children into lifestyles and choices with which they do not agree. 

Let that sink in for a minute. Book-banning was something Hitler did. 

I cannot and will not entertain the notion that banning books is good for children. In fact, I believe just the opposite is true. In books, authors like me present real issues teenagers are likely facing right now, allowing readers like you to experience those issues within a safe and secure context. Concerned parents, teachers, and librarians can use books like mine to start difficult conversations with the teens in their lives to teach and support these kids. 

Indoctrinate? Since I was a child, I've read books about all manner of subjects. Reading Flowers in the Attic did NOT compel me to enter into an incestuous relationship. Reading Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys did not transform me into a sleuth. Reading With Love From Karen did not suddenly produce cerebral palsy. Reading Forever did not make me lose my virginity. Reading the award-winning Maus did not scar me for life because of nudity and swear words. 

It did, however, instill a deep disrespect for anyone who believes Nazis are good people. 

Reading novels like Speak did, in fact, compel me to write my own novels about sexual assault. Reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda did not "turn me gay." Reading the Hate U Give did not make me hate police or support efforts to defund police departments. Rather, it opened my eyes to the sort of microaggressions people of color face every day and helped me understand how I can be racist even though I did not intend to be. It also shed light on how justice in this country is too often not determined by the law. 

I do not see any of this as indoctrination

Rather, reading books develops empathy and respect. It offers teaching moments and ways to improve and change problematic behavior. 

Books have never murdered classrooms full of children. Books are labors of love to be celebrated, respected, held in the highest regard. To all those who think their children should not read a particular book, I say, "Great! You're parenting your child as you see fit." 

But moving to ban that book so all kids must abide by your rules is un-American and just plain wrong. When considered in the context of social media, it's just plain stupid to ban books while allowing access to TikTok, SnapChat, and YouTube, where all manner of perversions can be accessed. 

I leave you with one last quote:

Readers are not sheep and not every pen tempts them, said Nabokov. No parent, no politician, has the right to decide what's acceptable reading for all children. Books are love. 


  1. Fear is a giant evil serpent that feeds and grows upon itself. The resurgence of book banning is a perfect example.

  2. This is brilliantly articulated and I couldn't agree more, Patty. Thank you for tackling this topic and shedding light where light is needed.

  3. Yet people cheer when corporations ban books like 'When Harry Became Sally'


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