People have tried to suppress information and written texts for nearly as long as the written word has existed. Banned Books Week reminds Americans that while not everyone agrees on what is deemed worthy of reading, what one reads should be determined by the reader. September 30-October 6, 2012 has been designated as Banned Books Week by the American Library Association (ALA).
According to the website of BannedBooksWeek.org,
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned books the Examiner has reviewed
This is the thirtieth year that a specific time period has been set aside to bring recognition to censorship and the freedom to read. As Banned Books Week begins its thirty-first year, they have provided a timeline called Thirty Years of Liberating Literature. Here are a few of the children’s and young adult books that have been challenged or banned in the last 30 years.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut – In a 1982 court decision that determined students’ First Amendment rights had been violated by the removal of this book from school libraries, the court stated, “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” Vonnegut’s book is the story of time-traveling Billy Pilgrim and his experiences during the WWII bombing of Dresden.
“Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson – Although this book won the Newbery Award in 1978, it wasn’t until 1986 that parents challenged it being used in a 6th grade classroom. At issue were the uses of ‘profanity’ such as “Oh, Lord.” Paterson’s novel is the story of two young friends who create an imaginary world as a way of dealing with life’s problems.
“Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous – The fictional diary of a teen girl dealing with drug addiction has been lauded for its accurate portrayal of teen and drug situations of the early 1970s, when it was first published. Challenged through the years, it has been removed from the reading lists and classroom collections of high schools across the U.S.
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry – Another Newbery Medal winner, this book was published in 1993. The story of a future society that is controlled by drugs, void of emotion and memories has been challenged as being “lewd” and “twisted.” It deals with euthanasia, suicide, puberty and sexuality.
“My Mom’s Having a Baby” by Dori Hillestad Butler and Carol Thompson – Challenges as being inappropriate for the target audience, containing nudity and being about sex education, this book is about exactly what the title says. A little girl is going to be a big sister and she has a lot of questions. They are answered accurately with illustrations.
The San Francisco Children’s Fiction Examiner will be featuring information about banned books and celebrating National Book Month throughout October. Make sure to get each article by subscribing to the Examiner.