Banned Books Week – September 18-24 – is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read! It was started in 1982 in response to a large amount of books challenged in schools, bookstores and libraries. Banned Books Week promotes the value of free and open access to information. The American Library Association says “By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.” Stay tuned this week for more information about banned books and check out the Library Bill of Rights https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill and The Freedom to Read https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/freedomreadstatement
“Captain Underpants” series by Dav Pilkey was the most banned book in 2012 for offensive language and violence. Parents who filed complaints with the Office for Intellectual freedom thought the books unsuitable for the intended elementary age group. Kids really like these books because they are funny and easy to read, and yes, they do include potty humor!
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee has been repeatedly challenged and banned ever since it was published in 1966. Parents complain that it contains racial slurs and has a negative effect on students. Told from the point of view of a young girl named Scout, it also teaches important lessons on injustice, inequality, racism, hatred and to judge people according to their character.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is about 16 year old Starr Carter “an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances, and addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty”. It was challenged for profanity and was thought to promote an anti-police message, but is important because it looks at the way stereotypes are used to justify racial violence.
“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White was banned in 2006 in a Kansas City School district because “talking animals are unnatural” and the spider dying was “inappropriate subject matter for a children’s book.” The book is a beloved classic with many important lessons, like appreciating diversity, coping with loss, learning compassion and the meaning of friendship.
A few other banned and challenged books include: The Harry Potter series, The Diary of Anne Frank, 1984, The Bible, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The internet is full of information on why certain books are banned, and why they are important too. The Book Riot website says “Observing Banned Books Week reminds us to educate ourselves on which books are being challenged. The American Library Association has a list of the top 10 challenged books by year. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10
According to the National Education Association website, “What all of these books have in common is this: They reflect the diverse experiences of students of all races, of all abilities, of all religions. They open windows in students’ minds, so that we can see—and celebrate—all of us.”