Banned Book Week Continues: the Grapes of Wrath

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Our founding fathers protected our free speech knowing that a healthy, strong society must have a free exchange of ideas.  Banning books is a fear-based exercise which tries to block this exchange by suppressing words that might inspire or enlighten.  When I come across a book that has been banned, I immediately want to read it to find out what it is that someone else thinks I shouldn’t know.  That is why banning a book will never work .

When I was young and  first realized that one of my favorite books, “The Grapes of Wrath”, had been banned, I was confused and didn’t understand why anyone would want to suppress such great writing.  After re-reading it  many times later in life, I could see how threatening the book must have been politically and to the California land owners who felt their side of the story had not been told.  A local librarian who tried to stop the banning of the book in Kern County, California wrote, “It’s such a vicious and dangerous thing to begin.  Besides, banning books is so utterly hopeless and futile.  Ideas don’t die because a book is forbidden reading.”

The book has been banned at different times in many states in the US, including Iowa.  Reasons cited have included bad language, vulgarity and Communist propaganda.  I think it is simply one of the greatest American novels to come out of the 20th century.  If you haven’t read it, please do so and exercise your right to decide for yourself.

–Valerie, Cedar Rapids Public Library

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