Banned Books Week Starts Sept 25

Here’s the ALA article on Banned Books Week. You’ve still got a few weeks till the celebration begins.

This event was started in 1981. Here are links to the list of books that were on the Challenged or Banned list during each of the Banned Books Week yearly compilations starting with the 2005 list.

2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010.

Most of the books on these lists are ones that I am unfamiliar with. However there are a few authors or titles that I recognize. Of those that are familiar I would agree that they contain material that some parents would choose to not have their children exposed to in Elementary or Junior High School. In High school, College, and Public Libraries the material shouldn’t necessarily be removed but parents should be allowed to help their children decide what is appropriate for them to read or view. Full disclosure to adults as well as procedures in place to keep mature materials and content in appropriate locations so that parents or other responsible adults can address the material with their children when they consider it necessary. I do not expect books to be removed simply on content or material basis but recognize that some people will find certain materials inappropriate or offensive for children or teenagers they are responsible for. These adults should be given the opportunity to help those children or teenagers make acceptable choices while still leaving materials available to other readers that feel differently.

My intention is to go through the lists that are currently available and compile my own lists of books I have read and ones that I would like to research further and perhaps read myself.

Please recognize that I am not approving or endorsing these books or asking that they be removed from any specific lists or programs, merely bringing people’s attention to the fact that books and literature are a matter of reader tastes and values that should be made available while still allowing parents and other adults with authority in a child’s life to have the say in what content and material those children are allowed to access. I realize that this is a fine line to walk and is difficult to determine what content or material should be readily available to children and teens in a public resource such as libraries and schools.

Personally I would like to see more books available to students in a wider variety of topics or novels at their age level especially as they become teenagers and college students. This promotes not only a variety of tastes but also the opportunity for parents and other adults to discuss wise choices with children and teens as they mature so those children and teens grow in their own ability to make appropriate decisions on their own.

4 comments

  1. No books have been banned in the USA for about a half a century. See “National Hogwash Week.”

    Thomas Sowell says Banned Books Week is “the kind of shameless propaganda that has become commonplace in false charges of ‘censorship’ or ‘book banning’ has apparently now been institutionalized with a week of its own.” He calls it “National Hogwash Week.”

    Former ALA Councilor Jessamyn West said, “It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don’t talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it’s totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all.”

    Banned Books Week is Next Week

    And then there’s Judith Krug herself who created BBW:

    Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week,” by Judith Krug, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006. “On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.”

    Lastly, remember the ALA does not oppose book burning when doing so would interfere with its political interests. Go see what Judith Krug said about Cuban librarians: “American Library Association Shamed,” by Nat Hentoff.

    1. I simply discovered the banned books week article and it was the first time I’d really seen much about it. True most of the books on the lists have been either removed from children’s and young adults’ shelves at public libraries to where they can be accessed only with the prior approval of a responsible adult or removed from school libraries due to parent complaints or claims of inappropriate content. In many cases the books have only been removed from suggested or supplemental reading lists for specific grade levels or from required reading lists where students weren’t given alternative choices. “Banning” doesn’t necessarily mean discarding or destroying a book entirely. I’ve read a few of the books that appear repeatedly on the list over the past 5 years and several of them are considered “Literary Classics”. As I mentioned in my post I am merely sharing interesting book related information that I discovered. Everyone is still entitled to their own opinion. As long as people speak respectfully to those who hold differing opinions and do not force their own values on others I see no reason why multiple positions cannot be peacefully shared and discussed in a non-confrontational manner. When people come together through a common love of reading and books there are still bound to be other points on which they disagree. If all concerned realize that tastes differ and the minor issues of genre, content, and values can vary widely among any given group of people, those in the discussion can chose to respectfully disagree or decline to participate in that discussion if “trigger topics” surface that they do not feel they can respond to in a respectful manner.

  2. I just don’t get banning books. I think it’s fine for a parent to help their own child select books to read, but when they try to impose their ideas on others, I have a real problem with it.

    1. I agree with you about expecting others to live by the same standards you do. I also understand about schools removing books from their libraries or not having them in their collections because of parent or teacher complaints about inappropriate content. However I would not expect High School, College or Public Libraries to abide by those same standards due to the age of students or in the case of public libraries since their patrons cover all ages. Those would be areas where I would expect parents to have oversight about material their children access because it would be unfair to library patrons to refuse everyone access to books because some adults want their children to not be exposed to that material.

      I don’t get the concept of refusing library patrons access to materials because even though some people might choose not to be exposed to the material others would specifically choose that particular material for themselves. I think that although people have different tastes it is never fair to force one’s own standards or preferences on anyone else. Denying access to materials in a public forum like high school, college and public libraries is an obvious attempt to force standards on others who don’t share those standards. By high school students should have the skills to make choices appropriate to their maturity and preferences. This doesn’t mean they always agree with their parents but independence in regards to personal preferences is part of becoming an adult. Anything can become offensive to others when their choices are forcibly controlled by those who have different preferences. Just because I don’t want to read something doesn’t mean it should be denied to those who do want to read it.

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