Recently, I have been debating with some of the theologically inclined the question of religious privilege in a secular society and the funding of private religious schools. Coincidentally I came across an internet post which illustrates one of the problems of these “special character” schools – prohibition of selected reading material (see Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?)
It’s quite heart-warming story, really.
As this young woman, Katherine, explains it:
“I go to a private school that is rather strict. Recently, the principal and school teacher council released a (very long) list of books we’re not allowed to read. I was absolutely appalled, because a large number of the books were classics and others that are my favorites. One of my personal favorites, The Catcher in the Rye, was on the list, so I decided to bring it to school to see if I would really get in trouble. Well… I did but not too much. Then (surprise!) a boy in my English class asked if he could borrow the book, because he heard it was very good AND it was banned! This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list. I took care only to bring the books with literary quality. Some of these books are:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)
The Canterbury Tales (Oxford World’s Classics)
The Divine Comedy
Paradise Lost (Modern Library Classics)
Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles)
The Hunger Games
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The Evolution of Man – Volume 1
The Holy Qur’an
Anyway, I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it’s the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on.”
As she says – she thinks “it’s the right thing to do.”
Well of course it is. Sometimes one must act according to one’s conscience, not figures of authority.
But what initiative! Such an intelligent approach to this problem.
Thanks to Alice Sheppard (@PenguinGalaxy)