Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week 2011: Earth's Children Series

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning? 

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Why are books challenged? 

Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. See Notable First Amendment Cases.

Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. 

On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to
the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
the material contained "offensive language"
the materials was "unsuited to any age group"Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

--Read more at ala.org


BBW HISTORICAL FICTION TITLE OF THE DAY

Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel

I read The Clan of the Cave Bear when I was in high school upon a recommendation by my English teacher.  Even though it has been many years since I read it, it still remains one of my most favorite books of all time.  I can't imagine if my parents would have forbade me from reading it.  It was an early introduction to historical fiction, a genre that has become my first love.  I'm thankful to have discovered it through my reading of Ms. Auel's fine work.


Most common reason:
Banned for sexual references, which were described vividly.
A specific instance:
Challenged, but retained from the Moorpark High School recommended reading list in Simi Valley, Calif. (1993) despite objections that it contains "hardcore graphic sexual content." Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Mar. 1994, p. 70; May 1994, p. 99. (obtained from afn.org)

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