Banned Books Week 2010

As you may have heard, the last week of September each year represents annual Banned Books Week – a week in which we celebrate our rights to intellectual freedom.

Every year, hundreds of books are challenged and/or banned from classrooms and public libraries. In 2009, 460 challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. (It is important to note that these are reported challenges, only – for each report, one can assume a number of similar unreported attempts) (Click to enlarge)

Book Challenges by Year (from www.ala.org)

Each of these challenges does not merely represent someone expressing an opinion; rather, each of these challenges represent a separate, documented attempt to remove materials from public access. In other words, censorship. Banned Books Week is when we reflect on those censorship attempts and celebrate our rights to read, interpret, and express ourselves.

Since 1995, these are the most frequent reasons given for book challenges/bans (click to enlarge):

Challenges by Reason

And here is the list of all the books challenged in 2009:

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Twisted
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Block, Francesca Lia. Baby Be-Bop
Boyle, T. Coraghessan. The Tortilla Curtain
Brown, Marc Tolon. Buster’s Sugartime
Burroughs, Augusten. Running with Scissors

Cast, P. C. and Kristin Cast. House of Night series
Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Comfort, Alex. Joy of Sex
Crutcher, Chris. Deadline

Drill, Esther. Deal with It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL
Dubberley, Emily. Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Fuentes, Carlos. Aura

Garrison, Eric Marlowe. Mastering Multiple Position Sex

Hahn, Mary Downing. The Dead Man in Indian Creek
Harding, Kat. Lesbian Kama Sutra
Hartinger, Brent. Geography Club
Hemingway, Ernest. Hills Like White Elephants: A Short Story: The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf

Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany

Johnson, Maureen. The Bermudez Triangle

King, Stephen. “Survivor Type: A Short Story” from Skeleton Crew
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees
Klausen, Jytte. The Cartoons That Shook the World
Knowles, Jo (Johanna Beth). Lessons from a Dead Girl

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
Lippman, Laura. “The Crack Cocaine Diet: A Short Story” from Hardly Knew Her

Martin, Michael. Kurt Cobain
McDonald, Brian. In the Middle of the Night: The Shocking True Story of a Family Killed in Cold Blood
Mead, Richelle. Vampire Academy series
Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
Meyer, Stephenie H. Twilight series
Moore, Alan. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier; America’s Best Comics
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon
Myracle, Lauren. ttyl

Richardson, Justin, and Peter Parnell. And Tango Makes Three

Schrag, Ariel, ed. Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age
Scott, Elizabeth. Living Dead Girl
Sedaris, David. “I Like Guys: A Short Story” from Naked
Seierstad, Γ…sne. The Bookseller of Kabul
Selzer, Adam. How to Get Suspended and Influence People
Shusterman, Neal. Unwind
Silverstein, Charles, and Felice Picano. The Joy of Gay Sex
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. The Egypt Game
Sones, Sonya. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies

Toriyama, Akira. Dragon Ball: The Monkey King

Von Ziegesar, Cecily. Only in Your Dreams: A Gossip Girl Novel

Walker, Margaret. Jubilee
Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir
WritersCorps. Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems

This week, both Ana and myself have taken to reading a frequently challenged and banned book apiece. Ana has taken on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, while I have reread an old favorite with Mark Twain’s masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Regardless of whether or not you agree with, like or are a proponent of these challenged and banned books, we all deserve the basic right to access these titles and voice our opinions. We – like the ALA, countless bloggers across the interwebs, librarians, educators, parents, and readers the world over – encourage everyone to read something truly *subversive* this week.

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  • Gerd D.
    October 1, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Well, looking at the number of sex guides in that list I guess people just don’t like being told how to love somebody properly. *hah*

    And “Survivor Type” really?
    I could see “It” on that list for an often discussed reason, or “Gerald’s Game”, but that story?
    They realise that this is _not_ meant to encourage drug abuse and cannibalism?
    (Loved that story btw.)

  • Paz
    October 1, 2010 at 6:44 am

    I was surprised to see The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder on this list. I loved that book when I was a kid! I’m trying to think what could possibly be objectionable and I simply cannot imagine what it is. Any ideas?

  • katiebabs
    October 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Banning The Diary of Anne Frank boggles my mind. But then again I heard some want the dictionary banned.

    Some people just don’t have anything to do with their time.

  • Liz
    October 1, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Don’t the kids in The Egypt Game perform Egyptian rituals? Anything smacking of witchcraft is anathema to a certain type of Christian. I once had a (COLLEGE) student in a children’s lit class tell me she couldn’t read Harry Potter. I pointed out that we’d already read Wizard of Earthsea, but she said her pastor, and therefore parents, hadn’t heard of it, so hadn’t objected. I got her to research why Christians objected to HP and write a paper about it, from which I at least learned a lot.

    I am still laughing about “Hills Like White Elephants” being on the list. I have a lot of difficulty getting my students to see that the couple is discussing an abortion. I’m amazed a book-banner is smart enough to interpret it (maybe s/he had a good English teacher).

  • Paz
    October 4, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Thanks Liz! I never even thought about that. I just remembered the book being about kids and make believe. I guess it doesn’t take much sometimes, huh?

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