Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week

By the way, it's Banned Books Week here in the States.
During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2011 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 24 through October 1. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982. For more information on Banned Books Week, click here
The ten most challenged books of 2010 show a nice mix of old taboos and new ones. Some of these don't surprise me (Brave New World, always unpopular; And Tango Makes Three - o noes teh gay!); some make me sigh (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Revolutionary Voices); and some just (I'm afraid) reinforce my notions about people who want to ban books (Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America - yes. Seriously.) Others were Crank, Lush, The Hunger Games, What My Mother Doesn't Know, and Twilight.

Read any of those? How about old standbys like Huckleberry Finn (the n-word)? People's History of the United States (leftist)? Or Of Mice and Men (profanity)? Or The Diary of Anne Frank (sexy)? Or To Kill A Mockingbird (might upset black children)? That new old stand-by, Harry Potter? Newer ones like Bless Me, Ultima (anti-Catholic attitudes)? Fallen Angels (bad words)? The Kite Runner (unspecified parental objections)? Help the Forest (challenged in Oregon for its portrayal of loggers)? The Lovely Bones (too scary)? The Book of the Secrets of Merlin (occult!)? I Saw Esau (because Maurice Sendak's illustrations were "absolutely offensive in every way"!)? Uncle Bobby's Wedding (gay guinea pigs!!!)?

Or the dictionary? Yes. Kids find all kinds of words in dictionaries.

Note, please, that not all of these books are being banned (or challenged) in middle schools. Some of them are in colleges. Some in public libraries. (That last is particularly egregious.) I don't say everybody should read these books. I do say that pulling them off the shelf, forbidding anybody to read them, in some cases tearing out pages or refusing to return the book to the library at all is just wrong.

See five years worth here and find something to read!

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At 11:05 AM, September 27, 2011 Anonymous Mark P had this to say...

This list is so ridiculous it's hard to believe it doesn't come from The Onion or SNL. Maybe the right course of action is local. Maybe people who don't want books banned should start demanding that their own list of books be banned. Start with the Bible. Too much violence, nakedness, suggestions of incest .


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