Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Banned Books Week

I do not want to let this week pass with out noting that it is Banned Books Week.  This is a time set aside to celebrate the freedom to read . 

This annual event was created to remind us not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose what you want to read.  And the freedom to express your opinion even if it is considered strange, unpopular or just plain wrong.  It is your opinion and you have the right to write about it or alternatively to read about it. As the ALA points out:

Intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

It is a quirk of human nature that we seem to want to try to suppress opinions and ideas that we don't agree with.  In our modern world we have developed a new language for banning books -- we call it a challenge. 

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. 

I think that is a lot like banning, don't you?

I am fascinated by the “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007.”

  • 1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
  • 2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
  • 3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
  • 4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
    Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint
  • 5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
    Reasons:  Racism
  • 6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
    Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
  • 7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
  • 8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
    Reasons:  Sexually Explicit
  • 9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
    Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
  • 10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

I find it interesting that books that are sexually explicit or unsuited to an age group make up 8 of the 10 titles. 

Makes me wonder about two things:

  1. What ever happened voting with your pocketbook (or just not buying/picking up/reading a book)?
  2. And where are the parents of these kids -- isn't protecting them and teaching them about making responsible choices what parents do?

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