Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Saturday begins Banned Books Week (September 26-October 3).   Are you ready? 

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and a number of other organizations.  I've always loved the idea of Banned Books Week because I love to read and I'm a big supporter of the First Amendment and its guaranty of freedom of expression.  So this is a two-for-one celebration for me.

Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

According to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (which collects stats year round) the following were the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2008:

    1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
      Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
    2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
      Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
    3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
      Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
    4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
      Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
    5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
      Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
    6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
      Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
    7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
      Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
    8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
      Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
    9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
      Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
    10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
      Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

Truthfully I haven't heard of most of them.  And the only one I've read is The Kite Runner.  This year, to celebrate Banned Books Week,  I'm thinking of reading something from the list of Challenged Classics.   One that I haven't read, like An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.

And I'm going to donate to one of the groups that advocate for First Amendment rights.

What are you going to do?  Better decide quick, Saturday will be here before you know it.