Saturday, September 27, 2008

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Today begins the American Library Association's 27th annual Banned Books Week. A quote from their website that I think is great follows.

"[Banned Books Week] celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."
Here's a definition of the difference between banned and challenged books according to the ALA, before I get into the top 10: "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials."
The top 10 challenged books of 2007:
1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain Reasons: Racism
6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language
7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou Reasons: Sexually Explicit
9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen ChboskyReasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
The ALA also has lists of the most challenged authors, and a much more comprehensive list that includes a couple of decades.
I think if I ever wrote a book, I'd be proud to have it on the banned or challenged books lists. It just means that it made enough of an impact that people have strong feelings about it. It'd be like a badge of honor.
And finally, my favorite quote on this subject by Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Every burned book enlightens the world."

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