Thursday, October 1, 2015

Banned Book Week

While banned book week is nearly over, it’s still a very important topic to mention. In a world where a large portion of the population seems to be offended by one thing or another, tensions (and opinions) can run high when discussing anything from politics to baby names and religion to what we choose to eat. Thankfully, we (well those of us in the U.S. and parts of Europe) are lucky to live in a place where we can exercise our freedom of speech. Mostly.
I say “mostly” because there are still parts of this country (referring to the U.S. from here on out) where it is thought to be acceptable to ban or prohibit people from reading certain books and learning about certain topics. And while there’s a wide spectrum on how people feel about banning books, reading and writing books regardless of content is protected under the first amendment of the constitution.
Many books are banned because the behavior and language is incongruent with the personal beliefs of the group that is doing the banning. Banning typically means that the book is not to be made readily available to community members via schools or libraries. Most of these challenges/bannings are initiated by parents or guardians and for reasons pertaining to sexual explicitness or offensive language. And since 1990, the year of 1995 had the most challenges/bannings with a total of 762 books. Below is a list of frequently challenged or banned books in the U.S. and their reason(s)...

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) - Too Depressing
Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling) - Witchcraft, Bad Behavior
Howl (Allen Ginsberg) - Homosexuality
Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell) - Profanity, Sexual Content
And Tango Makes Three (J. Richardson, P. Parnell) - Homosexuality
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) - Inappropriate Behavior, Sexual Content, Offensive Language
Lady Chatterley's Lover (DH Lawrence) - Sexual Content
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) - Sexual Content
Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller) - Sexual Content, Homosexuality
The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie) - Blasphemy
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) - Sexual Content
Animal Farm (George Orwell) - Goes Against God (talking animals is unnatural)

...and perhaps the most ridiculous of all…

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin Jr.) - Banned because an author with the same name as this book’s author (Bill Martin, no relation)—who, to be clear, is an entirely different person—was a Marxist who wrote a different book about Marxism and people don’t know how to check their facts.

For more information on banned books please see http://www.ala.org/bbooks/.

How do feel about banning books? Which banned books have you read and do you agree or disagree with their decision to be banned? Remember to please keep the conversation friendly and respectful!

7 comments:

  1. When I was a librarian, I had a parent protest my LGBTQ themed booklist and display. Nice thing about public libraries is they don't censor (or they shouldn't).

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    1. Same with large chain book stores! I can't tell you how many times people say we shouldn't sell books on sex, books on witchcraft and paranormal topics... I've even had people say they wouldn't shop with us because we sell the Quran and Mein Kampf.

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  2. Of your list, I've read Eleanor & Park, Brave New World, Lolita, and Animal Farm (well, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear), I personally love each of them, except Lolita. I don't think books should be banned, but I do think that parents should be more knowledgeable about what their children are reading. There are some topics that might need discussion or explanation. Also, some children read well above their grade level (such as my daughter) and some topics might be a bit too mature for them. I feel it's the parent's role to determine which books are appropriate for their kids (and not someone else's kid), not groups that want to keep people from reading about things that go against their own beliefs.

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    1. I agree with you, Carrie! The parent should be responsible for what their children read and be there if the child has questions etc. And yes I also agree that the decision not to read a book in particular should only affect a very small group of people, perhaps the child, parents, and maybe a teacher or an administrator if the situation calls for it.

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  3. Heavy sigh. The Diary of Anne Frank is banned b/c it's "too depressing"???? She was hiding from the Nazis during the time of the Holocaust! Of course it's depressing, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be read and understood. I think this is the thing that bothers me most about book banning the most -- that those making the decision/campaigning for censorship in the first place -- somehow think that ignorance is better than education.

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