Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014 - Affirm the Freedom to Read September 21 - 27

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:
  1. “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey.Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni MorrisonReasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. “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
  4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James.Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne CollinsReasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee StoneReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green.Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen ChboskyReasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. “Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo AnayaReasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. “Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, People For the American Way and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books website or

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. 


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Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. I think that it is important to highlight the fact that books are being banned. I can understand parents ensuring books are age appropriate, but I don't really consider that banning.

    I think I would get a copy of THE COLOR PURPLE. An extraordinary story.

  2. Banned Books are meaningful, memorable and should be read and savored. To Kill a Mockingbird is one which is unforgettable with depth and character.

  3. I am not taking part in the banned books week but by coincidense I am listening to His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. These are challenged/ banned.
    Books are not banned in Denmark ( I had to check to make sure), we have age recommendation for some but that is it.

  4. I can't believe books are banned and a lot of them are really good books and have no reason to be banned. campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  5. And I would by something by Judy Blume.

  6. I believe we should support reading, and that includes the books that some people don't think are suitable -- those are the books that usually make you feel or think more deeply. This week I have been reading LOLITA for a classics group read and for Banned Books Week. I'm not sure which of the books on my list I would purchase first. I guess it would depend which came up first for a group read.

  7. I'm always amazed when reading the list of banned books. Especially when seeing so many literary classics on that list.

  8. If I won, I'd pick Looking for Alaska by John Green

  9. I love books, and think that if certain people find some books offensive, then they don't have to read them. I do not support banning books. I think we should always have the right to choose whether or not we want to read something. We don't need those choices made for us. Parents should monitor what their children are reading and it's up to the parents to 'ban' certain books if they feel their child needs to be older or more mature to read a certain book. I would like to buy Sherman Alexie's book; I've enjoyed his writing and am sorry one of his books ended up on this list!

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