dick and jane image

So this morning I decided to do a little work from home instead of my normal routine of reading half an article in the New Yorker or some other publication I always intend to read cover to cover and then don't. So in order to get the bare minimum daily dose of news I need to feel good about myself, I turned on CNN. Before they switched to showing footage of waves crashing over a seawall in Galveston (don't worry, you have 18 more hours before Ike actually hits to catch some of it), I caught 2 minutes of an extremely annoying news anchor interviewing Ed Koch. She asked him something about Sarah Palin and how she had banned some books from her local library. After the break, the news anchor came back on with a correction: Palin hadn't banned books, she had merely "asked" about banning them. Phew! She had only "asked" about giving the Constitution a big f-you. No harm in asking, right? Unless, apparently, you're the librarian, and you say "no."

That's as far as this blog is going on the subject of politics. I try to keep it Miami-oriented (at least loosely), and so here goes. I grew up in south Dade in a neighborhood called Whispering Pines. The closest library was South Dade Regional, and this is where I would spend every Saturday morning for much of my elementary school days. My mom and I would take the escalator up to the children's section, where I would scour the shelves for new pleasures: Babar, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Amelia Bedilia, anything bearing the Caldecott or Newbury Award sticker. We'd sit at one of the miniature tables and flip through a few before I chose my allotment of five. This was, by far, the highlight of my week. Books were (and still are) my crack. I learned to read at the age of four, so I would more often than not read my mother to sleep every night. There's no doubt in my mind that it was my mom who taught me to love books. She, too, is a librarian. When angry parents and politicians were fighting to ban "Vamos a Cuba" from school shelves, my mom was very vocal (including a local news interview) about supporting the first amendment, not censorship. Fortunately, unlike the librarian in Alaska, she was never fired for standing up for not only what she believed in but for the Constitution.

September 27 is the beginning of Banned Books Week. Events are scheduled at local libraries as well as at Books and Books. At the store's Coral Gables location, they'll host "Fread 'em" on Oct. 4, during which 10 local authors will read excerpts from their most beloved banned book, followed by a screening of "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest." So whether your favorite book is Fahrenheit 451 or Marley and Me, take in an event at your local bookstore or spend a couple hours in your local library (if you're up for a field trip, head downtown to the Main Library, it's pretty impressive). Instead of spending the afternoon at the mall spending money on crap you don't need and eating Sbarro, take it outside with a beach chair and a good book, and be glad you're not in Galveston.

Or Alaska.

-- miaeditor