Banned Books Week 2010


Welcome to Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2, 2010), an annual event that celebrates our freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Sponsored by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week spotlights book bannings across the country in an attempt to draw attention to the problem of censorship. Many people think censorship is a thing of the past, but let me assure you that it’s something librarians and teachers across the country are still fighting on a daily basis. In fact, quite a few cases of censorship have been in the headlines over the past month:

The Texas State Board of Education recently passed a resolution saying that a positive portrayal of Islam will not be tolerated in social studies textbooks. The resolution also says that future textbooks must devote more coverage to Christianity and other non-Muslim faiths. (The Dallas Morning News)

Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, wants Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak removed from classrooms and libraries. He referred to the two rape scenes in the book as “pornography.” Read Anderson’s rebuttal (“The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying.”) on her website.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie was recently banned in Stockton, Missouri. (New-Leader)

Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean was recently banned from Canadian ferry gift shops since it has a naked backside on the cover.

The Humble Teen Lit Fest was recently canceled after many of the invited authors decided to boycott the event. Author Ellen Hopkins, who writes about serious topics like drug addiction, had been uninvited from the festival after parents complained. Many of her fellow authors felt the festival was trying to censor Hopkins and withdrew in protest. (Guardian)

All of these stories make me angry (equating rape with pornography, seriously???), but I think censoring textbooks has the potential to be the most damaging. It’s really hard for kids (adults too) to understand that textbooks can be biased and that the people behind the book may have an agenda. I guess this is just another reason why it’s more important than ever for parents to take an active role in their children’s education.

For another reminder that censorship is not dead in America, take a look at the most banned/challenged books in American libraries. It kills me that To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my favorite books of all time, is on this list.

The Top Ten Banned Books of 2009 (according to the ALA)

1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle 

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs


2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality


3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide


4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 

Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group


6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence


8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


9. The Color Purple Alice Walker 

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Have you read any of these banned books? What is your favorite banned book?

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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