Saturday, September 26, 2009

ALA Banned Books Week

Today is the beginning of ALA's Banned Books Week, which runs from September 26th to October 3rd this year.

Their site has links with explanations of how books are challenged as well as lists of frequently challenged books, which includes books such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (2007) and Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (2002-2003). Here is an interesting chart (scroll down) which shows "Challenges by Reason."

University of Virginia Libraries has an online exhibit titled, Censored: Wielding the Red Pen. One page shows picture books that have been challenged. These included The Amazing Bone by William Steig and Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. Interestingly, the Bible was one of the first books to be censored and burned--in 1536.

Each individual will have different views of what is appropriate for them and their family. We can express our opinions, but shouldn't impose our views on others. Also, each parent can make choices for their own children.

From what I've seen, kids won't choose to read books if they aren't ready or able to handle the material. Books which cover tough topics and which show how characters deal with issues, allow children to view these problems in a safe environment. Books can be a good discussion lead in, so parents or other adults can discuss things openly and express their views/values, which can actually protect children more than ignoring tough topics.

This map shows book bans and challenges from 2007-2009.
From what I could see, when enlarging the map, the only states without challenges were Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

The last country I've lived in banned books. Many books and magazines were not allowed into the country, which is the right of that country and within their laws. Pages and lines had been blacked out in some textbooks at my kids' school, though not in books my kids used. There were many times I could not access information online because it was blocked.
Living in such an environment, after being used to greater freedoms, was troubling to me.

I am grateful for the freedom to read books which I want to read.

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