It's that time of the year. The weather is cooling off, trees are turning red and orange, Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, and kids are heading back to school - and some people are fighting to keep books out of their schools. It's ALA's annual Banned Books Week, a time for raising awareness about censorship and gaining support for schools, teachers, and librarians who offer a wide range of books to students (and often face backlash for it). Here's what you should know about Banned Books week, a sample of resources and materials, and even an excerpt of my thoughts on the subject from a previous post.
What is Banned Books Week? Why do we need to talk about this?
"Banned Books Week is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. [...] Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported."
You can read more in-depth information about Banned Books Week and challenged books on the ALA website.
ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom's 10 most-challenged books of 2014:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
- Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
A selection of my thoughts on the importance of offering a selection of books to kids:
"If [parents] think that reading one questionable book will completely subvert their efforts to raise an upright child, then there are bigger issues at hand.
So read banned books. Go to local school board meetings and advocate against banning books in our schools. Parents, have discussions with your children instead of censoring their content. Go to a bookstore, pick up a challenged book, and enjoy the fact that in the pluralistic society we live in, access to books isn't - and shouldn't be - controlled by an indignant minority."
-Carolyn Gruss, Why I read Banned Books - and Why You Should, too.
How to combat censorship:
- Judy Blume's Resource Guide/Toolkit on Book Censorship in Schools
- NCAC's Book Censorship Toolkit
- Banned Books Week resources page - individualized resources for artists, booksellers, kids, librarians, teachers, publishers, students, and writers
A selection of videos made for Banned Books Week:
I hope you found this post informative and that you'll join me in advocating against censorship. Let me know on Twitter by tweeting me @YALitFrenzy what you're doing for Banned Books Week.