Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week! September 21-27

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

September 21-27, 2014 is Banned Books Week! During Banned Books Week the library is celebrating our freedom to read by showcasing books that have been censored or challenged over the years. 

The Banned Books Week tradition was started in 1982 by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom to combat censorship and protest the increasing number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and public libraries. Books that were frequently banned during this time included Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, which was censored from school libraries in 1982 because some people considered it “Anti-American” and “just plain filthy,” and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, a story accused in 1983 of “encouraging deviant behavior.” In 1984 Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Color Purple was challenged for its “troubling ideas about race relations and human sexuality.” Even the beloved children’s book In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak faced censorship when it was challenged in an elementary school library in 1985.

In fact, many of the books that we consider “classics” today were once removed from bookshelves because of the objections of parents and community members. The American classic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, takes the number one spot on the American Library Association’s list of “Banned and Challenged Classics.” Other familiar titles on the list are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. 

In recent years popular young adult books like the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and The Giver by Lois Lowry have also been challenged. Graphic novels like Bone by Jeff Smith have made the ALA’s list of most challenged books as well.

Help us observe Banned Books Week this year by reading a banned book. Come by the library to see a display of previously banned and challenged books and celebrate your freedom to read!