This week is Banned Book Week, a time when we ask citizens not to take their right to read for granted. What a perfect week for this to fall, because it’s also the Friends of the Library’s Used Book Sale, which starts with the Members’ Sale, Thursday at 5 p.m., and runs through Sunday, Sept. 29.
You can choose to purchase anything you want, including perhaps some of 2012’s Most Challenged Books. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the 2012 list features:
1 Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group.
“Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.
4 “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
5 “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group.
6 “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.
7 “Looking for Alaska” by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
The important thing to note is that “challenged” does not mean “banned.” It means that a person asked for a book to be removed from the shelves or for it to be restricted in use. I figured that most challenges were made through school libraries, and they are, but I was very surprised to see how many challenges public libraries receive. In the past decade (2000-9), around 1600 challenges were made at school libraries and about 1200 were made at public libraries.
And we all know that books are only challenged by “certain” groups, right? Wrong! According to the ALA, books are challenged for a myriad of reasons and by people with all sorts of beliefs. ALA shares an interesting quote from the book, “Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other,” by Nat Hentoff. He says “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.”
Be assured that your trusty librarians are here to protect your right to read regardless of political, religious or other viewpoints. (Not to take this matter lightly, but I have to confess bafflement at the lack of books challenged for plain bad writing!) Please join us at the book sale and in the library this week and celebrate your freedom to read!