Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Banned Books Week!

I feel it's fitting that Banned Books Week starts today, considering it was only last week the Free Library of Philadelphia learned it was going to have the necessary budget it needed to stay open. I know libraries in Indiana have been struggling due to budget and tax cuts, and it's a scary thought that our free public libraries could suddenly just disappear. Imagine the resources that would be lost - including free access to banned and challenged books.

September 26-October 3 is National Banned Books Week, hosted by the American Library Association. It celebrates "the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment" and "highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States." For a complete list of the challenged, restricted, removed, or banned books from 2008-2009, click here.

One of my favorite books to bring up that has been challenged in the past is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Why has this book been challenged? Because it endorses gluttony. Never mind that the caterpillar realizes that eating junk food makes him feel yucky, and only when he eats his leafy greens does he turn into a beautiful butterfly.

And, since the movie is coming out soon, I should also mention Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak has also been challenged. Why? Because he threatens his mother ("I'll eat you up!") and instead of being punished is taken on a magical trip where he celebrates with beasts and, when he returns home, is immediately forgiven.

And these are children's classics. Think of the possibilities with new children's books (And Tango Makes Three and Uncle Bobby's Wedding - read the response to this challenge here; one of the best I've ever read), not to mention the scores of adult books and classics (including my favorite, Gone With the Wind). Actually, most of my favorite books have been challenged at one time or another, but that's what I love about them. They give me a different perspective on the world, give me something new to think about. How boring life would be if everything we read was bland enough to please everybody!

Please leave me a comment telling me your favorite banned book - I always love adding to my To Be Read pile!

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. Amy, I am a little embarrassed to admit that of the books on the 2008-2009 list I have only read the Twilight series, To Kill a Mockingbird and am in the process of reading Wicked. My "to-read" list just got a lot longer though:) Thanks for posting this information, I've been thinking about branching out and this list will certainly help.

  2. Hi. Can we please go see "where the wild things are" together? I don't know how we can make it happen- but I just feel like you'll appreciate it as much as I hope I do!
    Miss you my friend.

  3. Sarah - I've read 5 of the listed: Uncle Bobby's Wedding, To Kill a Mockingbird, Wicked, and the Twilight series (so technically I've read 8). I really need to read more!

    Katie - Yes, we should definitely see this movie together. I can't think of anyone else that would make that movie perfect for me. :-)