The importance of the First Amendment and the concept of "intellectual freedom" might not always be readily apparent to most kids, but Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to make those lessons come alive for children—and adults.
Banned Books Week is held annually during the last week of Sept. (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012). The week is an occasion for libraries and bookstores across the U.S. to help folks realize just how real and ongoing a problem censorship is.
At the Oak Park Library, staff will celebrate the week by inviting library-goers to pose for a "mug shot" with their favorite banned book. (See some of last year's photos here.) The week after, the Libary's "Idea Box" will feature a "most wanted" wall of the photos.
The Oak Park Library also prominently features a "freedom to read" statement on its website, approved by the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council.
"It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority," the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the River Forest Library will have a special display of banned books upstairs in their Adult Services Department.
Additionally, River Forest Library staff mentioned that there will be a Banned Book Week Read-Out! on Saturday, September 26, from noon to 2:00 PM
in historic Bughouse Square, located at 901 N Clark St., in Chicago,
IL. Several authors who have been the targets of censorship efforts will appear.
To find out what is planned in Forest Park, contact the library at 708-366-7171.
More than 11,000 books have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982, the inaugural year of Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the vast majority of challenges to books are initiated locally by parents, likely in well-meaning attempts to protect their children.
Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.
Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
- The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
If you’re interested in celebrating Banned Books Week as part of a lesson for your kids—or simply to feel like a rebellious reader—check out these additional resources:
- Mapping Censorship, a visual representation of places books have been challenged in the US, created from cases documented by the ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project
- Virtual Read-Out, a worldwide celebration of the freedom to read, featured on a dedicated Banned Books Week YouTube channel
- State-by-state listing of BBW events
- Banned Books Week on Facebook and Twitter
- Free BBW downloads from the ALA, like badges and Facebook cover art
TELL US: Do you think books should be banned from schools, bookstores or libraries?