Monday, September 23, 2013

It’s Banned Book Week-So Do Your Part and Read a Banned Book

Censorship. The dictionary defines it as meaning: the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts.

It’s time again-Banned Books Week- an yearly celebration that draws attention to banned and challenged books, celebrates the freedom to read, and encourages the right of intellectual choice in regards to reading.

Started in 1982, every last week in September, libraries and bookstores around the country use this week to highlight censorship by displaying books that have been challenged and/or banned. Events are hosted that offer insight into censorship and the damage done when intellectual freedoms are limited and/or denied. 

According to the ALA (American Library Association) over 5,099 challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom in just this decade alone.

  • 1,577 challenges due to "sexually explicit" material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to "offensive language";
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed "unsuited to age group";
  • 619 challenged due to "violence"' and
  • 361 challenges due to "homosexuality."

274 materials were challenged due to "occult" or "Satanic" themes, an additional 291 were challenged due to their "religious viewpoint," and 119 because they were "anti-family.” 1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries; 1,811 were in classrooms; 1,217 took place in public libraries. There were 114 challenges to materials used in college classes; and 30 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to library materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and students. The vast majority of challenges were initiated by parents (2,535), with patrons and administrators to follow (516 and 489 respectively).

*Please note that challenged doesn’t automatically mean these books were banned.

The 10 most challenged* books in 2012 were:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison                                                                                          Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

The 10 most challenged/banned books of all time:

1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (1884)
2. And Tango Makes Three – Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (2005)
3. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling (1997-2007)
4. The Chocolate War – Robert Cormier (1974)
5. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger (1951)
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou (1969)
7. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health – Robbie Harris (1994)
8. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (1937)
9. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (1960)
10. The Grooming of Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (2000)

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