It’s that magical time of the year when us freedom loving people get together and celebrate the fact that we get to read what we want, when we want, the end. That’s right, it’s Banned Books Week!
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. 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.
My favorite part of Banned Books Week is reviewing the updated banned and challenged book list. The list includes books that have banned or challenged from May 2012 to May 2013. The list includes 44 titles, and like every year you see some familiar faces and some stand out titles.
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie – this book ends up on the list every year. I mean at this point people complaining about it is a snooze-fest to me. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood – I haven’t read this but I’m guessing a lot of you guys have. This was challenged as required reading for a Page High School International Baccalaureate class and as optional reading for Advanced Placement reading courses at Grimsley High School because the book is “sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt”. We’re talking about high school students, some of them can see R rated movies by themselves, I suspect they can handle Margaret Atwood, am I right? “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card – they don’t actually say what the problem is, but it has to be with the book, and not that the author is bat shit crazy. “Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies” by Laura Esquivel – this was removed from a reading list at Nampa, Idaho high school because it was considered too racy for sophomores. I can’t remember when it was that I read this book, but first, it was a pretty good book and kind of racy, and second, it was when I was in high school. I think we can say that I turned out all right. Not a word out of any of you! “Different Seasons” by Stephen King – this book was challenge but retained at Roklin California High School. What’s kind of funny about this is that some charities have you buy books for children and I always buy “Different Seasons” for high school aged children. According to some Roklin California parents I suck. FYI, if I can’t buy “Different Seasons” I pick up a copy of “Neuromancer” by William Gibson. Rebecca Elson, corrupting young minds via charity. “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell – marked for removal in the Davis, Utah School District because parents might find it objectionable. Every year someone has to pick on poor old Tango. Why does everyone have to hate on same sex penguin couples just trying to raise their baby penguin the best they can in this crazy world. Did you know there are some sickos out there who buy “Different Seasons” for high school kids? See what they’re up against?
If you’d like to view the whole list, which I encourage you to check out because we didn’t even get into the schools banning whole subjects or the graphic novels that popped up, click here.
If you want to learn more visit the Banned Books Week website, or the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week site, or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.