This is one of the most important weeks of the year, in my opinion. Every year I participate in my small way by posting about banned books here on the blog. It's all about spreading awareness and celebrating our freedom to read.
To kick things off, I share the press release from the American Library Association's (ALA) Media Relations Specialist, Heather Cho:
CHICAGO — It may surprise some to find out there are hundreds of reported attempts to ban books every year in the United States. It may be even more astounding for them to hear that since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has received reports of more than 18,000 attempts to remove materials in schools and libraries for content deemed by some as inappropriate, controversial or even dangerous.
Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27, 2014, reminds Americans about the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book they choose. According to ALA’s OIF, for every banned book reported, there are many more that are not.
This year’s Banned Books Week is spotlighting graphic novels because, despite their literary merit and popularity as a format, they are often subject to censorship. Graphic novels continually show up on the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books. The most current list for 2013 includes two graphic novels: Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series “Bone” at #10.
“Our most basic freedom in a democratic society is our first amendment right of the freedom to read,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “Banned Books Week is an opportunity for all of us – community residents, librarians, authors and educators – to stand together protecting this fundamental right for everyone and for future generations. We can never take this precious right for granted.”
Banned Books Week has been celebrating the freedom to read for 32 years. Libraries, schools and bookstores across the country will commemorate Banned Books Week by hosting special events and exhibits on the power of words and the harms of censorship. On Sept. 24, SAGE and ALA’s OIF will present a free webinar discussing efforts to un-ban books by visiting activists and speakers in London, Charleston, S.C., Houston and California. For the fourth year the public is invited to read from their favorite banned books by participating in the popular Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out on YouTube.
Past participants have included highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors such as Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauren Myracle and many more. This year’s new videos will feature Ana Castillo, Stan Lee and Lois Lowry, among others.
In addition to book challenges, online resources, including legitimate educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, are being overly blocked and filtered in school libraries. To help raise awareness, the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), a division of the ALA, has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day, Wednesday, Sept. 24. During Banned Websites Awareness Day, the AASL is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how excessive filtering affects student achievement.
Many bookstores, schools and libraries celebrating Banned Books Week will showcase selections from the ALA OIF’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013. The list is released each spring and provides a snapshot of book removal attempts in the U.S. The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013 reflects a range of themes and consists of the following titles:
- “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey.Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
- “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni MorrisonReasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie.|Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
- “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James.Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne CollinsReasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
- “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee StoneReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
- “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen ChboskyReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- “Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo AnayaReasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
- “Bone” (series), by Jeff SmithReasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books website or bannedbooksweek.org.
I look forward to you stopping by this week to check out some daily slideshows I've created about Banned Books Week. In the meantime, to celebrate kick off day, share with me what Banned Books Week means to you? Those who comment will be entered to win a $10 Amazon eGift card to spend towards purchase of a banned book of your own. You can read lists of banned books by year HERE. Also, share with us which banned book you will purchase if you win. I will draw a winner on Sunday, September 28.