Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. People challenge books that they say are too anything. Objections to profanity, slang, offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups, and even positive (or simply not negative) portrayals of homosexuals are the most common reason for a book to be challenged. Targets range from books that explore the latest problems, to books on natural animal behavior, simple fictional novels, and even the most classic and beloved works of American literature.
See, a challenge occurs when a formal, written complaint is filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Challenges can be filed by individuals or groups, and it is estimated that for every challenge issued, about four others go unreported. A challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon someone's personal opinions. Successful challenges result in books being restricted, or even banned.
Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose and express one’s opinion even if it may be unorthodox or unpopular in the prevailing culture. Stressing the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to explore them ensures intellectual freedom for all. In times like these, freedom of thought is a sacred right, to be celebrated and embraced, not taken lightly.
“If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.” ~ Noam Chomsky
There are many events scheduled throughout the country to celebrate Banned Books Week. To see if your area has an event or display scheduled, visit the event listing.
As there are no book stores in Southwest Missouri listed on the event calendar as celebrating Banned Books Week, I invite everyone to come to the square for the First Friday art walk, this October the 3rd, from 5-7pm, and read banned books. Pick a book to read quietly, or simply gather to discuss censorship. Just come, and let's all support one another in standing up for the First Amendment right to free speech for ourselves, and all other peoples! Don't have a banned or challenged book to bring, no problem, there's a library right off the square. Pop online right now at the Springfield Green County Library's web site and reserve a book, or have one sent to the downtown branch, to check out there, and let's exercise our rights, and deny censorship, while expressing and encouraging community solidarity!
“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” ~ Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.
Below is the list of the most challenged individual titles and authors last year, as well as a link to the some of the best books in history that people have challenged, or actually succeeded in banning.
For a list of the banned or challenged books from the Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century visit here. Stop by your local library and check one out today in celebration of your freedom to read what you want!
You can also find Banned Books Week on Facebook & MySpace!
The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:
1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
The most frequently challenged authors of 2007
1) Robert Cormier
2) Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
3) Mark Twain
4) Toni Morrison
5) Philip Pullman
6) Kevin Henkes
7) Lois Lowry
8) Chris Crutcher
9) Lauren Myracle
10) Joann Sfar
Banned Books Week ~ Because freedom of speech isn't just for those who share your opinions, it's for everyone!
* Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.