Thursday, September 25, 2014

Freedom to Read: Banned Books Week

From PBS:  "What Is Censorship? Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons -- individuals, groups or government officials -- find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, "Don't let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!" Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone."

Banned Books Week is an annual event during the last week in September that celebrates our freedom to read.  The American Library Association keeps records every year on books that are challenged or banned in school and public libraries across the nation.  Books are challenged for a number of reasons, including sexual content, offensive language, unsuitable for an age group, homosexuality, and violence.  It is surprising to many people to see that classics, childhood favorites, and school required reading frequently appear on these lists.  Exercise your right to read and don't take this freedom for granted! And before you look, try this BuzzFeed quiz on how well you know your banned books!

Now, here are some examples of banned books:

  Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey - the favorite of many elementary school students has been the number one challenged book for 2012 and 2013! 

  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, has been banned due to "unsuitability to age group" and religious viewpoints.

  Looking for Alaska by John Green Banned due to drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Note:  the Printz award winner in 2006.

 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie banned due to drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexual content, racism, and offensive language.  Notice that it is a National Book Award Winner!

 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky banned for drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, homosexuality, and unsuitable for age group. 

These books are just the tip of the iceberg - check out the full lists on the American Library Association Website.    Remember to take advantage of your right to read - check out our banned books display in the front of the library for some suggestions. 

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