Rachelle’s Reads: Banned Books Week

Chandler Public Library Director Rachelle Kuzyk talks about books she loves and the freedom to read in this post for Banned Books Week.

In recognition of Banned Books Week (October 1-7, 2023), I’d like to encourage you to pick up a title - any title - that expands your awareness of the world, other cultures, other humans, or other ideas. One of the most defining books of my youth was Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head, not because it was particularly literary, prophetic, or educational, but because the clerk at the local bookstore refused to sell it to me. Published in 1968, it’s a story of teen pregnancy which, naturally, also delves into teen sexuality. I’ve always been an advanced reader, so I found my way to books with mature content earlier than most kids my age, including my dad’s Louis L’Amour westerns and my mom’s Harlequin romances. I spent nearly every dollar of my allowance at the bookstore and read my way through what seemed like every book at the public library. I read comic books like Archie, Garfield, Peanuts, and Family Circus, popular authors of the time like Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingles Wilder, and Judy Blume, series like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Boxcar Children, and even all the books by Matt Christopher that were primarily intended for boys at the time.

It came as a surprise to absolutely no one when I became a librarian. When I first entered the profession, I’m not sure I truly recognized that not everyone is afforded the opportunity to read widely and voraciously, that I had, in fact, been given an incredible gift – the freedom to read. The protection of that freedom is now one of the greatest challenges faced by librarians, and we take it very seriously. Public libraries remain relevant today because they represent and reflect all people and all ideas. Please visit one of our four Chandler Public Library locations and browse our collections…perhaps you’ll take home a copy of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, all among the 100 most banned and challenged books of the last decade. Perhaps you won’t, but the choice to borrow one or to find something else is yours to make.

Rachelle Kuzyk, MLS
Library Manager, Chandler Public Library