As Banned Books Week continues, here’s an infographic created by Ala.org that features information that was originally published during National Library Week in the State of America’s Libraries Report 2017
It’s that time of year again to celebrate Banned Books Week and to defend our right to read. If you think books aren’t banned today, well you’re in for an awakening. Here’s a video compiled by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) of the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016.
Happy Sunday everyone! Today marks the first day of Banned Book Week. The week celebrates the freedom to read and was started in 1982 by the late Judith Krug, a prominent First Amendment and library activist. The campaign is also sponsored by the following:
- American Library Association (ALA)
- American Booksellers Association
- American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- Association of American Publishers
- National Association of College Stores
- And endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
Banned Book Week has two campaigns: An international one and one here in the U.S. which has been held during the last week of September since its inception.
The American campaign “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” as well as the requirement to have public access to materials so people can draw their own conclusions and form their viewpoints. The international campaign focuses on individuals who have been ‘persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.”
This year, there’s also marks the spotlight on comic books and graphic novels which have been banned. For more information about this you can head over to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s site. They have a Banned Books Handbook you can download for free or purchase print in addition to discussion guides for the banned books.
For more information about Banned Books Week head over to the above mention sites as well as Banned Books Week’s site.
This is a list of 97 challenged/banned classic novels that the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom composed which are also on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. Check them out and if you haven’t read any of them head to your local library or bookstore and pick them up.
We’ve only got two more days left before Banned Books Week comes to a close, so in honor of that, today I’m giving you two banned books.
First off the spotlight falls on Harper Lee‘s novel To Kill A Mockingbird
Published in 1960, the book focuses on six-year-old Scout Finch, her older brother Jem who live with their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer in the ficitional town of Maycomb, Alabama. Their father is appointed by the court to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, Mayella Ewell. Because of this, the family faces opposition from the town.
The primary themes of the novel are racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. In addition, Lee addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the deep south. The story and the characters are loosely based on the Lee’s observations of her family and neighbors, and an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was only 10 years old.
The book was successful from its debut and won the Pulitzer Prize. It also has become an American classic.
Why has it been challenged/banned?
It has been challenged/banned, due its racial themes, the racial epithet ‘nigger’ that is used many times throughout the book and profanity.
The spotlight moves to Toni Morrison‘s novel Beloved.
Published in 1987 the novel tells the story of an escaped slave named Sethe, who kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to the Kentucky plantation from which Sethe recently fled. Years later, a woman presumed to be Sethe’s daughter, named Beloved, returns to haunt Sethe’s new home at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati.
The story was inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured.
Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Ten years later, it was adapted into a film of the same name which starred Oprah Winfrey. In 2006, a survey done by the New York Times of writers and literary critics ranked the novel as the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years.
Why has it been challenged/banned?
Due to the book’s racial themes, sexual content, violence, and passages about ghosts.
Published in 1903, the story is set in the Yukon during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush. It’s a time when gold is high in demand and strong sled dogs were needed to conquer the snowy Alaskan wilderness. The novel’s story focuses on a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in California. He’s stolen and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog. As he adjusts to his new life, he reverts to ancient dog traits, and is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments, fight to dominate other dogs, and survive in a harsh climate. Eventually he leaves the instincts of civilization behind relying only on his primordial instincts, emerging as a leader in the wild.
So why is this book challenged? From Bannedbooks.org:
“Generally hailed as Jack London’s best work, The Call of the Wild is commonly challenged for its dark tone and bloody violence. Because it is seen as a man-and-his-dog story, it is sometimes read by adolescents and subsequently challenged for age-inappropriateness. Not only have objections been raised here, the book was banned in Italy, Yugoslavia and burned in bonfires in Nazi Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s because it was considered “too radical.””
Yesterday marked the start of this year’s Banned Book week.
What is banned book week? From the website http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/:
“Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2013 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 22-28. Banned Books Week 2014 will be held September 21-27.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. For more information on Banned Books Week, click here. According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported. “
I work at an academic library and in honor of this week, each campus has created displays which feature books which have been challenged or banned throughout the years.
This week there will be more posts about Banned Book Week so stayed tuned!