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Banned Books Week: What You Need to Know

Censorship is alive and well, as highlighted by Banned Books Week—and you might be surprised by who the most vocal challengers of books are.

The importance of the First Amendment and the concept of "intellectual freedom" might not always be readily apparent to most kids, but Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to make those lessons come alive for children—and adults.

Banned Books Week is held annually during the last week of Sept. (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012). The week is an occasion for libraries and bookstores across the U.S. to help folks realize just how real and ongoing a problem censorship is.

In East Cobb, you can show your support for the freedom to read by visiting the Mountain View Regional Library, the East Cobb Library or the East Marietta Library.

More than 11,000 books have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982, the inaugural year of Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the vast majority of challenges to books are initiated locally by parents, likely in well-meaning attempts to protect their children. 

Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.

Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle 

2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa


3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

If you’re interested in celebrating Banned Books Week as part of a lesson for your kids—or simply to feel like a rebellious reader—check out these additional resources:

M. Stone September 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM
The leftist political agenda of the American Library Association to undermine the parents within the public schools and public libraries is becoming really embarrassing. If the schools and libraries were really serious about "banned" books, they would use this week to teach about Salmon Rushdie, who, after a "fatwa" was issued against his novel "The Satanic Verses," has been living in hiding for 10 years to avoid being beheaded. Now that is a banned book. But we in the U.S. can read it. There are no "banned books" in the U.S. thanks to our First Amendment. For the American Library Association, this week is really about excoriating parents who disagree with teachers and librarians for providing, pushing, and assigning age-inappropriate material to their children. The ALA thinks the schools and librarians know best and the parents should just shut up.
Nancy September 30, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Thank you library association for letting us know how fear is still resulting in misinformation about important classics . There is a danger to all of us, young and old when ignorance hinders learning and healthy discourse. Knowledge should be embraced. Intellectual curiosity is essential for healthy growth and development of the young mind. Instead of encouraging independent thought, some are threatening children to parrot their own beliefs. It is important for young people to have the chance to reach out and question and make their beliefs their own. Otherwise they are puppets or robots.
Frank Eskridge September 30, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Seven of those books were actually assigned reading for me in high school! (Lovett and Grady, class of 1964).

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