Censorship {don’t let the books burn}

 I’ll be the first to admit…book-1659717_1920

I can’t imagine life without books. Perhaps one might even say I have an addiction to books. {Is there such a thing?  I mean, how can you read TOO MUCH? I guess you should be the judge.}

Every room in my house has books. Shelves of books, cabinets of books, baskets of books, books under the bed and tossed in the closet, books in bags and in the car. Books are everywhere. Lest we forget the advent of technology it must be mentioned too, Ebooks.  Books on the tablet, books on the Kindle and books on the PC…Ebooks everywhere! Needless to say I love my books. It’s not just me either, my entire family loves books. So I find the following glimpse of history hard to digest. I can’t imagine the horror, the shock, the sadness of watching all those beautiful books destroyed by flames.

The day the books burned.

The Invite reads, “Bonfire tomorrow. Bring all books. Attendance mandatory.”

You release a shaky breath that you didn’t realize you were holding. Your mind is racing, your body is frozen in fear. What does this mean for the Chinese people?  Is there any way to hide your books? What if you’re found out? No, you can’t think about that, you must not. You feel a chill slither down your spine. You know what is about to happen will change history.

Gather them all. Load up every book, manual, essay, novel, pamphlet, text-book, publication. Everything.  Bring it to the bonfire, your very life depends on it.  If you’re found withholding these forbidden treasures you too will be burned! 

THAT is a true story, a story from the very pages of history 2,000 years ago (okay, I took some dramatic license, but the event is true).

This atrocityfire-1781828_1280 would transpire during the reign of China’s, self titled, First Emperor. Like many tyrants throughout history he believed his way to be superior, his beliefs supreme and therefore absolute. What else could he do but implement force his people to believe the same. In a time before television, radio and internet there were books. Books of many ideas and philosophies that did NOT align with the emperor. To remedy the situation this emperor ordered EVERY SINGLE BOOK (not approved by his government) to be burned.  It’s said those that refused to comply paid with their lives.  

The blessing of a free society.

As a society of free thinkers we embrace books of every kind. It’s the blessing of a free society, one that I’d venture to say is taken for granted until we don’t have it. Take a minute and reflect. What do books mean to you?

To my son, books are knowledge. This beginner reader is thrilled that he can absorb fact after fact in his daily consumption of adult level science books. When he learns a new fact it must be shared with all willing and non willing participants. 🙂

To my daughter, a pre-reader, books are adventure. Bring on the glitter, unicorns and all things imaginary. She becomes entranced in the story, the emotion, the imagination of it all. This child sleeps surrounded by books. I frequently find them under her blankets and pillows.

To me, books are an escape. Books transplant me to another life, another time. I can empathize with the characters. They inspire hope and a thirst for more. They offer a view I hadn’t considered or challenge me to be better.

Is it worth your life?

So you see I cannot imagine a life without books. Here’s the real question, one that ancient Chinese citizens had to face, is it worth your life to save the books? It’s a question we (yes, the free society) must ask because it’s bigger than books.  It IS about choice. It IS about freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom from government intrusion. We must embrace the freedom, protect the freedomdon’t let the “books” burn. That, my friends, is what I taught my kids about the Day the Books Burned.

(Share this important lesson on censorship  with your kids. Check out The Day the Books Burned ,mini lesson and worksheets, in my store).


Book Burning and Censorship


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