It's Banned Books Week!
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 03:40:18 PM EST
Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read, sponsored primarily by the American Library Association. I think it is one of our very best, and perhaps least appreciated events that we embrace as a culture.  This year, it is being celebrated September 26−October 3, 2009. This year, the ALA has, among other things, posted an interactive map of incidents of book censorship around the country; and the interactive map , and action ideas, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has a cool organizing handbook and downloadable graphics.  

Banned Books Week always generates lots of press, (See for example The Christian Science Monitor.)

It is usually the case that the Religious Right is the source of most incidents of censorship and attempted censorship, and their reasons usually have something to do with hot button issues of the culture wars (that certain Beltway Insiders assure us are over, or just about to be.)

Here is what the American Library Association has to say:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom--the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular--provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged--and possibly banned or restricted--if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Calendar of Events and Ideas and Resources. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or bbw@ala.or


Update [2009-9-29 16:4:48 by Frederick Clarkson]:
Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008

Out of 513 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group




Display:
if mention will be made by the new form of censorship- book theft.

Conversations I've had with a couple of librarians indicate that they've been having problems with the more "controversial" books vanishing from their shelves- and in numbers such that it's causing a burden on some libraries.

The two people I talked with about the subject said that it was the books disliked by the "conservative element" and "religious people" that vanished the most.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 06:30:06 PM EST

adherents who have boasted of stealing and trashing any reading material they find offensive. They see it as a virtuous and noble thing to do.

by trog69 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:08:39 PM EST
Parent


many thanks to the ALA and their supporters. This is the front lines for culture warriors, unfortunately.

by trog69 on Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:11:29 PM EST


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