“Books are banned because they hold the power to inspire readers, change minds, evolve society.”
~ Craig Thompson, Graphic Novelist
Every year, between late September and early October, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week. Held in cooperation with national bookseller organizations, libraries, and independent collectors all over the country, this event is meant to recognize the importance of free speech and the power of the written word. It commemorates the strength of books and book-lovers, and invites us to take a stand against the censorship of ideas.
For 2014, Banned Books Week is being held during the week of September 21-27. This year’s theme is focusing on graphic novels, in particular, and whether or not many of them are “too graphic” for public consumption.
The staff at the J. Ardis Bell Library on TCC’s Northeast Campus are doing our part to help celebrate and promote Banned Books with a powerful display, featuring dozens of our favorite “controversial, dangerous, and subversive” book titles – all of which have been challenged or banned, over the last several decades, for a wide variety of reasons (and all of which are available for check-out!)
For example – J.K. Rowling’s well-loved Harry Potter novels are among the most-frequently challenged books of the last several years. My personal favorite installment in the series (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban) was challenged on the grounds that it would inspire children and other young readers into the practice of “godless witchcraft,” and because characters in the novel participated in so-called “ginger bashing.”
J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, on the other hand, was challenged for being “anti-religious” and “pro-smoking,” while Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter – a staple of high school literature classes across the counry – has been challenged for it’s so-called “pornographic and obscene” content, despite the fact that the book contains absolutely no sexually charged scenes or language, whatsoever. The same goes for The Diary of Anne Frank, which – as recently as 2010 – was challenged for being “pornographic” for a junior high school audience. Not even Dr. Seuss is exempt, it seems, as his world-famous Green Eggs and Ham was banned on political grounds in China for nearly thirty years, because it “depicts early Marxism.”
From the American Library Association’s website:
“The American Library Association promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them…”
“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.”
“Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
- the material was considered to be ‘sexually explicit’
- the material contained ‘offensive language’
- the material was ‘unsuited to any age group'”
For more information on Banned Books Week, or to see the official lists of the Most Frequently Challenged Books, please visit the ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks or stop by the library, and we would be glad to discuss the program with you.
The library’s Banned Books display will be set up in the front lobby on the main floor, through Saturday, October 4th… but the materials are always available in our collection.
Build your Library! Build your Mind! Pick up a Banned Book and Celebrate Your Freedom To Read!
In NE Library