Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Banned Books Week

2006 BBW; Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedom In honor of Banned Books Week, ban a book!

Seriously, at least once during BBW, I get asked about why the library is banning books. Sometimes it's a customer who doesn't get the display; once, it was a reporter asking us why we were celebrating banning books.

My take on banned books: It's up to you to decide what you read; it's not up to your neighbor. As for your children, it's up to the parent and child/teen as to how that is handled; it's not your neighbor's choice. I get a bit ornery about someone telling me what I cannot read.

Outside Of A Cat invites everyone to read and comment on a book that was banned.* I think I'll adopt Forever by Judy Blume; I haven't read it since my high school years, so it'll be interesting how it holds up.

As you look at the lists, keep this in mind: these are the challenges that ALA knows about, or the ones that make the paper. The challenges are made for many reasons; some of the titles are childrens, some young adult, others adult. I guarantee you -- for each one that is publicly known, there are ones that are kept hush-hush, because of fear of bad publicity. I wonder what the numbers would be if all challenges were reported.

The lists: 2005 list of most challenged books; the 100 most challenged books from 1990 to 2000.

Chris Barton at Bartography has an interesting story of trying to explain book banning to his son.

* And for the strict constructionists out there, for this, 'banned' doesn't mean the government stopping you from carrying the book over the border; within this context, 'banned' means both successful and unsuccessful challenges to remove a book from a library (public or school) or to limit it's availability to the degree that it may as well be unavailable. I also see it as implicitly including only those challenge based on subjective rather than objective criteria. (See my previous post on book selection, which shows sources of objective criteria as opposed to personal, subjective reasons). BBW is important as a reminder that in some places, your neighbors want to decide what you and your children can and cannot read by making those books impossible to find in public and school libraries. Do you really want them to have that power over you and your children? And how many people really have the funds to just go onto Amazon and buy these books?

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