Banned Books Week

September 25th to October 2nd is Banned Books Week, a yearly event to celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of free speech.

Books equal freedom and future.

Throughout the year books are challenged in an attempt to remove or restrict materials from curricula, libraries and booksellers.  Typical challenges are the attempt of an individual or group to limit or deny the access of others to others.  They most often cite a desire to protect minors from “inappropriate” content as a defense to their challenge and removal of books.  (See www.ala.org)

The American Library Association (ALA) has kept record of these requests and removals and maintains a list of books frequently challenged by “concerned” groups or individuals.

The period of October 2009 to September 2010 saw 409 challenges and subsequent censorship of books including “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou (California, restricted. Contents inappropriate for children) “The Joy of Sex” by Alex Comfort (Kansas, restricted. Harmful to minors under state law), Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Virginia, removed from assigned reading due to strong themes), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Ontario removed. Objectionable language) and even the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (California, removed because it contained the term “oral sex”).  This is just a sample of the books that have been censored in America this past year.  Some of the more famous challenges have been launched against the Harry Potter series, Twilight, Huckleberry Finn, and the Golden Compass for the “anti-Christian” messages purported to be contained within.

In any case Banned Book Week is an opportunity to celebrate and defend our freedom of speech and our freedom to read.  Books featured during BBW were unfortunately restricted despite the immense efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers and community members to retain the books in the library collections.

For more information visit the American Library Association to see how you can help.

Let’s celebrate our right to read, celebrate Banned Books Week!

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