Banned Books Week

Posted on September 25, 2009

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Banned Books Week is September 26 – October 3. The kick-off ceremony, Banned Books Week Readout will be held in Chicago’s historic Bughouse Square. Chris Crutcher will host the event. His novel, Running Loose is on the list of the 100 Most Challenged Books of 1990-1999.

Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008
Out of 513 challenges as reported to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom

 1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

 2. His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

 3. ttylttfnl8r, g8r (Internet Girls series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

 4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

 5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

 6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
 
 7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

 8. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

 9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

Six of the authors from this list will read from their work and discuss censorship: Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, Lauren Myracle, Sarah S. Brannen, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Stephen Chbosky.

The following books were banned in Colorado during the last 2 years:

2008 – Sarah Brannen’s Uncle Bobby’s Wedding was challenged at the Douglas County Libraries in Castle Rock, citing that because the book features two gay guinea pigs, it contained material inappropriate for young children.

2008 – Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was challenged at a Colorado Springs middle school library. A teacher reported that this book was ultimately removed.

2007 – Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass was pulled from shelves at Ortega Middle School library in Alamosa, for what critics regard as the book’s anti-religious views. District officials later returned the book to circulation.

There is some good news from the censorship battlefront. The Russian Education Ministry announced this month that excerpts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago will be required reading for students. Published in 1973, the book was immediately banned in the Soviet Union and Solzhenitsyn was exiled from his native country.

Censorship rears its ugly head in many ways. Commemorating Banned Books Week is an opportunity to pause and pay closer attention to all forms of censorship around us. Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression are all affected by censorship. I can’t imagine anything worse than a world where everyone agrees on everything. Contrast and diversity make life much more interesting. Although we could do with heaps more tolerance and acceptance.

The best way to support Banned Books Week is to read a banned book. Challenge yourself. Choose a book that you assume you won’t like, or one that you’ve heard rumors about and decided not to read. Open your mind. For lists of banned books go to the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books.

For more ideas to support Banned Books Week go to What You Can Do.

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