September 28th 2008 10:53 pm

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

Help me celebrate Banned Books Week!  The following is from the American Library Association web page devoted to frequently challenged books.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 420 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.  According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
  2. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
  3. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
  4. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Reasons:  Racism
  6. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
  7. TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
  8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    Reasons:  Sexually Explicit
  9. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
    Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
  10. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye and Beloved, both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

The site has many other links of interest, including three that caught my eye: Top Ten Challenged Authors 1990 — 2004; Most Challenged Books of the Twentieth Century; and Graphs of Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type and Year.  For an alphabetized list, with links, visit the American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression Online Handbook.

What to do?  Start by downloading the free ALA brochure on the Most Challenged Books of 2007-08.  You can also buy stuff at the ALA Store.

More importantly, buy one of these books, if you don’t have it already, and read it–think what you would miss without its ideas in the world.  If you have the book already, read it to someone close to you.  Check it out from the library and declaim it loudly in the quad.  Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 were not just good novels, they were visions.  Reading proudly and openly and sharing ideas, especially ones we’re inclined to shy from, keeps those visions in realm of fiction.

(Thanks J-Walk)

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