Are You With the BANNED?
September 21, 2011
The last week in September marks a very important occasion for book lovers and library advocates alike. From September 24th to October 1st, we can participate in an annual celebration that stresses the importance of one of our favorite things – our freedom to read. Banned Books Week was started in 1982 in an attempt to draw attention to the large increase in banned and challenged books occurring in libraries, schools, and bookstores across the United States. During the twenty-nine years since its induction, over 11,000 more books have been challenged or banned.
And that number, unfortunately, keeps growing. Last month, Republic High School in Missouri made headlines when the school board voted to ban Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five from the high school’s library and curriculum. Far from being outdated, Banned Books Week has become increasingly more important. With more and more authors and teens speaking out against such forms of censorship, this year’s Banned Books Week promises to pack a punch. For those bibliophiles who are eager to learn more, I’ve put together a few resources to get you started.
* If you want to know how many challenged books were reported in 2010 (348) or which book was number one on the 2010 Top Ten Most Challenged Books List (And Tango Makes Three), then the American Library Association’s site is for you. Here you will find statistics for banned and challenged books from 1990-2010. Many of my favorite classics, sadly, were on these lists, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and (ironically) Fahrenheit 451. Among the recent additions are two of my favorite new teen titles: Hunger Games and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Reading any one of these books would be an excellent way to celebrate Banned Books Week.
* If you want to learn more about the history of Banned Books Week, or if you are interested in teaching resources and ideas, I recommend www.bannedbooksweek.org. Check out their Censorship Map where they have pinpointed various challenges of books across the United States.
* If you are interested to hear what authors and teens are saying about Banned Books Week, you should look at the Banned Books Week Channel where YouTube is hosting a Virtual Read-out. Lauren Myracle reads from her recently challenged book, Shine, and Judy Blume speaks out against censorship. More authors are scheduled to post videos in the coming weeks, and teens are encouraged to post videos of themselves reading from their favorite banned book.
Blue Springs North Branch