Banned Books Week! September 22-28, 2013!

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It’s Banned Books Week!  Sponsored by American Library Association, Association of American Publishers, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and others, “Banned Book Week” is about:

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2013 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 22-28.  Banned Books Week 2014 will be held September 21-27.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. For more information on Banned Books Week, click here. According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported. The 10 most challenged titles of 2012 were:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison

    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

I emphatically and proudly read books and teach books and work with books that regularly make it to banned book lists.  For example, I am teaching Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man this semester in my African American science fiction class.  Invisible Man has just come under fire and been banned in a North Carolina county: http://courier-tribune.com/sections/news/local/county-board-bans-%E2%80%98invisible-man%E2%80%99-school-libraries.html (with follow-up here: http://gawker.com/the-bizarre-parent-letter-that-got-invisible-man-banned-1351663124).

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