Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week is next week!

Image reprinted by permission of the American Library Association.

It occurred to me tonight to check and see when Banned Books Week is, and it's good I checked -- it's next week, September 30 through October 6!  (Usually I only realize it's Banned Books Week midway through the week, once I see a blog post or promotion from someone else.)  This year is also extra special, since it's the week's 30th anniversary: We've been celebrating Banned Books Week since 1982!  Can you believe it?

I always try to choose at least one challenged book to read during the week, usually from the list of the top 10 challenged books from the previous year.  The list of banned books from 2011 includes several from last year, and even a couple of classics:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
 It's incredibly sad to me that To Kill a Mockingbird is still being challenged -- and, in fact, still makes it onto the top 10 list pretty frequently.  So does Brave New World, for that matter.  Others that seem to pop up regularly are Huckleberry Finn (of course), The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple...  Every generation always seems to have its share of offended parents when it comes to these books.

Another repeat from last year was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I actually read and reviewed back in 2008, before it started popping up on the banned books lists.  This is another one that amazes me when I see that it is a challenged book, since I never saw anything that I thought was questionable about it.

What strikes me as really funny (though not ha-ha funny) about these lists is how often racism is cited as the reason why a book is challenged.  Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Absolutely True Diary... all of these are challenged because they are ostensibly about racism.  However, anyone who thinks that that's what these books are about needs to reread them.  They are not about promoting racism, they are about overcoming it -- and why wouldn't you want your children reading about that, unless you don't really want them to overcome it?

In any case, I am trying to decide what to read this year for Banned Books Week.  I am thinking Brave New World, which I have never actually read before.  About time I did, don't you think?

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