Saturday, September 16, 2006

Banned Aid

It’s almost Banned Book Week, September 23-30. May not be a whole lot of celebrating going on, though.

Did you know the American Library Association received a total of 405 challenges in 2005? The top two were challenged for sexual content. In fact, looking at the top 10 list, seven of them were pegged for sexual content, one for racism and offensive language, and one for anti-family content. Lest you think it’s caused by the kind of books being printed today, also challenged very recently were “Of Mice and Men” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

So, is Banned Books Week a time to get the word out on these books so libraries won’t stock them? Actually, the title for Banned Books Week continues after a colon to read – Celebrating the Freedom to Read.

The ALA Code of Ethics says, “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”

The Library Bill of Rights states: Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. It also goes on to say: Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

When the ALA says a book was challenged, they don’t mean that someone said, “Ooh, I don’t like this book” or “I find this book offensive.” They mean someone(s) made “an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.”

So, perhaps the best way to commemorate Banned Book Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is to go to a library and read one of the challenged books or authors. Do something to fight for your freedom, your right, to read, lest those rights and freedoms be taken away by the few.


  1. Hel - thanks for the reminder about Banned Books. There is a wonderful article in the current Texas Monthly about a private school in Austin who required their high school Seniors to read Brokeback Mountain. Many parents pitched a fit, demanded that the book be withdrawn from the curriculum and the library, and one major donor even rescinded his pledge to the school. The teacher and the headmaster stuck to their guns, though, offering wonderfully inspiring reasons for asking the students to read the book. That takes courage!

  2. Congratulations and thanks to that teacher and headmaster. It takes a lot of courage and fortitude to stand up for what you believe in. And it sounds like they lost a lot for doing so. I hope they also gained in support from other parents.


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