Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week 2013 ends today.  So my question for you is: what banned or challenged book did you read?  I’ve been reading Ender’s Game, and was surprised to find it on the Banned list.  If you run through the most recent list, you might understand why – it’s a little like The Hunger Games, a little like Harry Potter, and maybe a little like Star Wars I guess.  Okay, its an alternate future reality, where we train children for war from a very early age.  If books like Harry Potter and Anne Frank are banned, a part of me says, sure, include this too.


Are you confused? New banned books? Here’s the deal: Banned book week celebrates the free to read, while highlighting the pitfalls and dangers of censorship.  Started in 1982 in response to a Supreme Court ruling that said banning Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut was in violation of children’s first amendment rights. Find out more about the reasons behind banning books from this CNN article.

The American Library Association (ALA) is a great resource on banned books. A section of their website is dedicated to banned and challenged books, including an explanation of the difference between the two. Per their website:

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.”

They also have information on notable first amendment court cases including Todd v. Rochester Community Schools (Mich. Ct. App. 1972), in which the decision mentioned above was made regarding Slaughter House Five. I actually hadn’t heard of most of the others, except of course for the battle of Heather Has Two Mommies.

bbw1So you may be wondering, what exactly is on the list.  Here is the latest list of commonly challenged books*.  You may be surprised to find much of your high school reading list appearing. And if you didn’t read them in high school – please do so now!  Yes, the list includes scandalous books like Romeo and Juliet, A Street Car Named Desire, Where’s Waldo, the Dictionary (who knew!), Beloved, and all the Harry Potter books.

Check out the ALA website where they breakdown the lists even more, most frequently challenged authors, top banned classics, top ten, and top 100 by decade.  What happens to banned books? They are still printed, read, discussed, etc.  Some of us encourage their reading over others.  Some are made into movies, which, ironically enough, do not get banned.  Yep, it’s not okay to read them, but please enjoy them in film form! The 10 surprising banned books that were made into successful (and not banned) movies. 

If you have a hankering to read more about banning books, there is a list on Goodreads of books about banning books (again, some may look familiar from your high school reading list)!

Curious about my fascination with Banned Book Week or banned books? I remember going to the public library when I was fairly young and picking out books to get off a table of banned books.  The display was made in honor of this week.  It’s something I’ve done for so long it would seem odd to miss it. And I nearly did this year.  It just so happened the book I’ve been reading, is on the list.  I’ll have a post on Enders Game once I finish it, but I actually starting reading it after seeing a list of books being turned into movies coming out this fall and winter.  And this one, I knew I’d likely see the movie, so I’m reading the book now.

Did you read something banned this week? Let me know what it was!



*Updated: Link has since gone bad; it has been updated to a current list of challenged books. 

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