Friday, September 26

Library Lesson: Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week. It's an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. So, from September 21-27, "the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types—[come together] in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular" (from the Banned Books Week website).

Being one such librarian, I must admit that I do feel that all books should have a chance to be read by the right person. Personally, of course, there are books I choose not to read, but I don't want to deny that right to anyone else. I mean, that's the whole point of a library, right? Access to free information? So that's the basis behind this celebration.

Here's how we celebrated at my library:

Do you see And Tango Makes Three in there?

To celebrate here on the blog, I've made a list of my top five favorite banned children's books from ALA's Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books for 2000-2009.

Harry Potter (series)
J. K. Rowling
#1 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: anti-family, bad role model, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence

Why I like it: This is my childhood. The power of one boy to save a magical world...well, I think it's inspiring. And I loved it.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (series)
Alvin Schwartz
#7 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: insensitivity, occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, religious viewpoint, violence

Why I like it: Because I like to scare myself.

His Dark Materials (series)
Philip Pullman
#8 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence, drugs/alcohol

Why I like it: I thought these books were amazing because their setting, concepts, and characters were so unique and original. It was gripping.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
#14 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: racism, offensive language

Why I like it: It examines racism in the south and other such issues through the lens of a child, which makes it really honest and fascinating. It's a classic!

The Giver
Lois Lowry
#23 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: encouraged sexual promiscuity, euthanasia, belittles motherhood and family, violence, inappropriate themes, and disrespect of the elderly

Why I like it: A dystopian novel before dystopian novels were cool! And it's groundbreaking in its depiction of such a society. And it's a Newbery winner. Just saying.

And, even though it's not really a favorite, but because this one made me laugh a little bit for its reasoning to be removed...

Junie B. Jones (series)
Barbara Park
#71 on ALA's list
Reasons for challenge: encourages poor social values, bad role model due to mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar.

Why I like it: It's hilarious. And pretty dang true to life.

So, while you may not agree--that's okay! That's what's so great about it. But let's all celebrate the freedom to read.

 I couldn't keep a straight face to save my life... Also, you now know how tall I am.

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