Banned Books Week was one of my favorite times when I worked in a library. Now that I’m a librarian sans library I’m trying to live vicariously through the librarians in my personal learning network and sharing all kinds of media coverage with my social networks.
For example, I made this image my cover photo:
Over on her blog, Librarian by Day, Bobbi Newman asked What is your favorite banned book?
Note that the phrase “Banned Books” is used in this week to refer to books that are banned as well as those that were challenged, but were never actually banned. Last year I listed my top 5 banned books, and a couple of the titles reappear here but I think these are all good examples of the range of wonderful literature that might surprise you are challenged:
1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Banned because of racial content, profanity, and references to rape.
2) A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Banned because it promotes violence and disrespect.
3) The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
Banned because it promotes the occult, magic, and so undermines Christian values (even though Harry is obviously a Christ-like figure).
4) Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
Banned because of profanity and sexual content.
5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Banned because of drugs, sex, alcohol, abuse, and homosexuality.
Banned Books Week began in 1982 as an attempt to draw attention to the censorship (or attempted censorship) occurring in library (public and school mostly) across the country. Although the focus is on books, the heart of the celebration is intellectual freedom – the ability to read and be exposed to a wide range of ideas which will make children, students, and people in general better learners and citizens.
This week Kelly Jensen at Book Riot draws attention to the fact that many banned books are about outsiders because they are perceived to be threatening, and Barbara Jones of the American Library Association in the Huffington Post wrote about the importance of these books in educating the mainstream about the invisible other and in enabling the other to read about themselves.
Banned Books that I would really like to read:
1) Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Banned because it espouses values that are against some people’s religious beliefs.
(author’s note: I picked up the audiobook from my public library to listen to on my commute!)
2) Black Boy, by Richard Wright
Banned because of strong sexual content.
(last year one of my work study students told me this was his favorite banned book in the display)
3) The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Banned because of sexual content, homosexuality, and offensive to Christians.
4) For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
Banned because it graphically depicts the brutality of war.
5) The Witches , by Rhold Dahl
Banned because children misbehave, satanic, and supports the occult.
(This is a children’s classic, but I never read it because I was a huge wimp when I was little and the idea of witches scared me. But see that – I knew this wasn’t the book for me then, so I chose not to read it – power to the children!)