Celebrate Banned Books Week

September 29, 2010

It’s Banned Book Week ( September 25th – October 2nd). Have you read a banned book lately?

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982.  People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and they protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups–or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore contemporary issues and controversies to classic and beloved works of American literature.

There are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 460 in 2009; the ALA estimates that 70 to 80 percent are never reported. If you think challenges to books only occur in the Bible Belt or in some backwoods town in Idaho, think again.  The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Below is a map of banned or challenged book locations from 2007-2009. This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

The New York Times has a post on their blog with recommendations for 10 ways you can celebrate Banned Books Week.  The American Library Association has provided a list of the 10 most frequently challenged books in 2009. Topping the list are the ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r books by Lauren Myracle. There’s nothing like a banned book to get a teenager to read, goes the old saying.

If you need more convincing in a humorous tone, watch the YouTube video below from the American Library Association.