Here's my deal with "banning" and "challenging" books: It is taking a personal opinion and forcing it on others. That's just the short version.
I have nothing against someone choosing not to read a certain book. I do it all the time. I think that everyone should take care and research the media they subject themselves to, whether it be movies, TV, magazines, music, or books. I base my decisions concerning these things on my own personal belief system.
I also have nothing against a parent taking care to protect their children from age inappropriate topics.
But I do have something against someone saying that NO ONE should read/watch/listen to something. The best thing about this country is one of our most basic rights is the freedom of speech! No one should be able to say that something shouldn't be published or read, just because they don't agree with the subject matter.
In fact, I think that a lot of times parents (it is mostly parents who challenge books) are missing out on a great teaching opportunity. Not only can reading a book with a differing view than your own help you understand your beliefs better, but it can be used to open a conversation with your child about topics and situations that face them in the world. Communication is key in teaching your kids right from wrong.
As an illustration of this, let's take a look at the list of 50 Banned Books Everyone Should Read. Let's use The Bridge to Terabithia as an example. (If you haven't read this book or seen the movie and would like to, this next part will contain a major spoiler.) The biggest objection to this book is the theme of death (as well as the use of imagination to create a "magical" world). Death is something everyone has to deal with and I think this book is a beautiful example of how a someone can change your life and be a part of your life even when they are no longer on this earth. This is a great opportunity to talk to your child (or friends, parents, whatever) about your beliefs on death and how to handle death.
So, this week, read a challenged/banned book. Maybe pick one from the list I linked to. It's up to you what book you want to read, and I am not saying that I personally approve of every book on that list, but it isn't up to me. As for me, I'm going to be reading The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.