An NPR story last Friday asked the question: Could Banning Books Actually Encourage More Readers? As someone who grew up with very limited access to books in accessible format, I know I treasure the increased access we have nowadays. Having had limited access makes me prioritize reading higher than many of my sighted friends. Judging by the number of book reviews posted on listservs I’m on of blind book fans, I’m not alone.
Take the top two titles on this year’s American Library Association’s Banned Books list: Captain Underpants and Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. This year’s iteration of the Captain genre, Captain Underpants and the revolting revenge of the radioactive robo-boxers: the tenth epic novel by Dav Pilkey is available from the local library consortium only in regular print. The National Library Service for the blind and physically handicapped has about half of the series, but not the latest few, available in audio format. Bookshare has all including the latest offering available for downloading by computer users with print disabilities in audio, braille or print/large print formats. If that voracious ten year-old reader who happens to be blind uses a computer with a Kindle app and the accessibility plug in, he/she could also read number ten in the series that way. Access for Absolutely True Diary published over five years ago is better at the library consortium level, with regular print, large print and audio versions available.
If you’re an adult whose taste runs to Fifty Shades of Grey books, another frequently banned and challenged series, you may be able to find one of the series at your local library in audio format, but there again you’ll need to belong to Bookshare or use a Kindle product to have access to all three. Having read all three, I would cheerfully agree one is enough, but that’s not the point. I value highly being able to make my own choice.
How will you celebrate Banned Books Week? I plan to finish preparing for a book club discussion I’m leading on Until Tuesday (about a veteran and his Golden Retriever service dog) and start Louise Penny’s latest mystery, available in audio format from the public library within a month of the publication of the print version. Reading is wonderful whether one does it with eyes, fingers or ears! Celebrate the freedom to read!