American Library Association's Banned Books Week Celebrates 30 Years and the Freedom To Read

Founded by Judith Krug in 1982, Banned Books Week will celebrate its thirtieth year of advocacy for First Amendment rights September 30 - October 6, 2012.
Founded by Judith Krug in 1982, Banned Books Week will celebrate its thirtieth year of advocacy for First Amendment rights September 30 - October 6, 2012. | Source

The 2012 Top 10 List of Frequently Challenged Books

Book
Reason
Author
Ttyl; ttfn; 18r; g8r (series)
Offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
Lauren Myracle
The Color of Earth (series)
Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
Kim Don Hwa
The Hunger Games Trilogy
Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
Suzanne Collins
My Mom's Having a Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy
nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
Dori Hillestad Butler
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Offensive language; racism; religous viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
Sherman Alexie
Alice (Series)
nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Brave New World
Insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious view point; sexually explicit.
Aldous Huxley
What My Mother Doesn't Know
Nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
Sonya Sones
Gossip GIrl (series)
Drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit.
Cecily Von Ziegesar
To Kill a Mockingbird
offensive language; racism
Harper Lee

Think For Yourself and Let Others Do the Same

The 2011 ALA  slogan that urged us to "Think For Ourselves, and Let Others Do the Same" was borrowed from an anti-censorship Facebook page.
The 2011 ALA slogan that urged us to "Think For Ourselves, and Let Others Do the Same" was borrowed from an anti-censorship Facebook page. | Source

What is Banned Books Week?

There are few things that I believe in more than the First Amendment, and the right of freedom of the press, so it shouldn't be surprising that I am a huge supporter of the American Library Association's yearly Banned Books Week.

Created by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug in 1982, Banned Books Week, is an annual awareness campaign that is celebrated during the last week in September, and is designed to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights, the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week, draws the public's attention toward the issue by spotlighting books and authors who have been, or are on the banned or challenged book list, and encourages the reading and examination of those books during that week. Booksellers and retailers across the country assist in that endeavor by inviting authors of the banned or challenged books to speak in their stores, by the funding of annual essay contests about freedom of expression, and with the creation of window displays that showcase the books that are on the banned or challenged list. Many educational institutions also get involved, by creating displays, and creating educational programs about the First Amendment that are centered around the week.

Amnesty International is the main sponsor for the international campaign, and urges people to take action on behalf of the authors who have been persecuted for their writing, or those who have been targeted for the literature that they circulate or read. They annually post focus cases, histories, and current status reports about the individuals from around the world who have been reportedly killed, incarcerated, or harassed by authorities, and ask the public to get involved and assist in partnership with its Urgent Action Network. Some of those featured in the focus cases and updates include people from Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gambia, Iran, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Russia and Sri Lanka.

Those interested in participating in Banned Books Week , can contact the American Library Association, who offer a Banned Books Week kit that includes posters, buttons, and bookmarks to celebrate the event.

The Who, What, and Why of Banned and Challenged Books

Everyone is Entitled to an Opinion,

to like what we like, and to not like something too. In the United States, that right is protected by The Bill of Rights, whose First Amendment, in part, addresses our rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. While it is true that everyone is entitled to their own opinon, no one is entitled to force that opinion upon someone else. Because we are granted freedom of speech and freedom of the press, we also have the right to freedom of information. When a book is banned, that means that it is made unavailable to the public, or in many cases, to a portion of the public. Doing so is a violation of our First Amendment rights.

Challenged or Banned? What is the Difference?

When a book is banned, it is removed from the shelves, and made unavailable to the public, or to a specific segment of the public. A challenge is formal attempt to restrict or to remove books or materials from public access.

Challenges are not simply a matter of a person expressing a strong personal opinion or point of view, they are an organized attempt to remove a book or other material from a curriculum or library, and thereby restricting access of that book or material to others, which in turn, is an infringement upon their First Amendment rights.

Who Challenges Books and Why?

Everyone has the right to challenge a book or reference material, but those who do, usually fall within the category or parent, educator, or clergy. The reasons why are varied from case to case, but statistically speaking, they usually challenge work based upon one of the following criteria; Offensive or foul language, sexually explicit, or religious view.


Do We Really Need a Banned Books Week?

Since most challenges are defeated, and therefore books are now very rarely, if ever, banned in the United States, you might be asking yourself if we really still need a week that is dedicated to the highlighting of books that are challenged, you might be thinking that we no longer need a Banned Books Week.

While yes, it is true that there has been significant progress made over the last thirty years, hundreds of challenges are still reported to the ALA every year, and according to their research, they estimate that only about twenty-five percent of all challenges are actually reported. That means that for every one hundred challenges that are reported, there are still three hundred more challenges out there that have the potential of ending up with a book or material being restricted to the public.

We are guaranteed our First Amendment rights on paper, but if we are to keep them, then we must exercise them. We should always be vigilant, and we should never forget that the threat it there. Banned Books Week reminds us that there is still the possibility that we could loose them.

-Kristen Burns-Darling ©September 2012 (all rights reserved)

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Comments 29 comments

Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Of my goodness, I had never heard of this. Thank you so much for this well-researched, informative article. Just think, I've read almost every book listed.

up/useful, awesome


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Fay Paxton - I hadn't either, and I have read most of them as well, and some of them are on my list of favorites to read over and over again! I am glad that you found it useful! Thank you as always for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are always very appreciated!


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

A very professionally written and informative article. I hope this gets out to a lot of people. I can not imagine the small minds behind this organization that tries to have boos such as these banned and I'm encouraged to learn there are others fighting to stop the insanity!


JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

OMG, I have read most of the banned books from the banned book list.

Isn't the first Amendemnt the right of freedom of speech not of literature? Isn' the first Amendment limited to Speech? Because I have read almost all of these books nd it wouldn't seem they were so banned.

Good Article though.


TeaPartyCrasher profile image

TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

I've read 7.33 (I only did the first of the three novels that 'The Golden Compass' is a part of).

But I wonder where "V for Vendetta" is. . .


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ JT Walters: Many of the books that make the yearly list may not actually be banned at the moment, but are frequently challenged. The term "banned" doesn't mean that the books have been forced out of print, this is after all America, but may mean instead, that they have been removed from schools, universities, and or public libraries. A good example is the Harry Potter Books, which during the release of the first book, and with each subsequent book, religious groups called for their removal, based upon the fact that they are about magic and witchcraft. The First Amendment protects our freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, as well as our right to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Thank you for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are always welcome and appreciated here!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ TeaPartyCrasher - If it was previously on the list of challenged or banned books, it may have fallen off, or it may have not caught the attention of those who actively try to ban books. I have read the majority of the books on the list, and a great many of them were school assignments. As I was going through this years list I also saw many other that I know have been a part of my children's curriculum as well. It is hard for me to imagine why anyone would want to ban Hamlet....but then I don't believe in the banning of books to begin with, so I really don't understand wanting to ban any book...Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are always welcome and appreciated~!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ poohgranma - Sherry I so agree with you, it is most definitely the small minded who attempt to control the thoughts of others by the banning of books and literature. I have been raised to believe that every voice has the right to be heard and that it is up to me to decide for myself whether or not I choose to listen. Thank you as always for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are as always appreciated!


jt walters 5 years ago

I appreciate your response. Thank you.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

I had no idea that there was a Banned Book Week. Your exceptionally written information sure does give one pause. I have read many of the books on the list. Great hub! I am sorry to hear that Mrs. Krug passed away. She was a phenomenal woman.

As an aside, I find it funny that religious folk would want some of these books banned when, for example, there are some harsh occurences in the bible that make the controversies in the "bannned" books seem minuscule.

Numbers - 31: 1-54

Judges - Chapters 19 and 20

1 Samuel - Chapter 18: 25-27

2 Kings - Chapter 2: 23-24

Outstanding hub and thanks!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Dexter Yarbrough - I had no idea either. I was brought up in an atmosphere that stressed the importance of reading, and respect for books, and by parents who taught me that every writer had a voice, and that it was up to me, (or when I was very young, them) to determine whether or not to listen to that voice, so I have trouble fathoming the concept of banning any book.

I am glad that I was able to enlighten someone (other than myself) to something new. Thank you for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are always welcome and appreciated here!


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

I could NEVER understand why any book would get Banned. It does take away the Freedom of Speech. If it hurts, on insults one's intelligence, the choice would be not to read it, but it would be one's choice...And a Big Thank you to Judith Krug, for all her contributions in fighting this, may she rest in Peace...And a BIG Thank You to you, K. Burns Darling for enlightening those that were unaware of this practice.


jt walters 5 years ago

Are the presses really free in this country? I undertsan that there is a constitutional point of freedom of press but isn't not free becaus eof the internet and the internet isn't covered in the 1 st amendment?

There weren't computers when the 1st amendment was written. Isn't the cyber world controlled?

I'm just asking?


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Why in the world would they ban, 'Huckleberry Finn' I've never heard of this, not only is it ridiculous, it's against our freedom of choice. I am thankful for a person like Judith Krug. Thank you for a very informative Hub.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ always exploring - Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and comments, they are always appreciated, I remember them trying to ban Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer for being racist when I was either in High School or Jr. High School. I agree with you, Judith Krug was am amazing person. Thanks again!


Sylvia's Thoughts profile image

Sylvia's Thoughts 5 years ago from Southern California

I was not aware of this. Like most of the comments, I too have read almost all of the books on the lists. My life is much richer for having read them.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I have been aware of banned books and the campaign to open eyes to this outrage. It makes me remember:

"First they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the communists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Martin Niemöller


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@b.Malin - I couldn't agree with you more, I was raised by parents who actually believed that it was their job to make sure that I understood the Constitution, and the bill of rights, as such, I was raised with a deep belief that every writer has a voice, and that it was my choice, (and in my very young days, it was by my parent's guidance) to listen or to not listen, to read or to not read. My understanding has always been that the rights of one individual or group of individuals should not imposed upon the rights of another. Therefore, the banning of a book because of one groups perspective would infringe upon someone else's right to read that book....It just doesn't make any sense to me. As always, thank you for the generosity of your time, and your comments, they are deeply appreciated!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Sylvia's Thoughts - The banning of books is something that I was aware of, I didn't know about Banned Books Week thought, and I am glad to have been able to inform so many people about something that I was not aware of myself, and I hope that people will embrace this upcoming week of awareness and spread the word, for I really believe it is a good cause. I agree with you, how dark would the world be without the light that shines when thoughts and ideas are shared? Thank you as always, for the generosity of your time and your comments, they are always a welcome and appreciated addition!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@Hyphenbird - That is absolutely one of my favorite quotes in the whole world, and it is in a prominent place on my bulletin board above my desk...a favorite because it rings with so much truth....Thank you as always for the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are always appreciated and welcomed!


Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org 5 years ago

Banned Books Week is a hoax: http://tinyurl.com/Sowell

For example, no book has been banned in the USA for about half a century.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@ jt walters - While it is true that there has been some trouble in translating the First Amendment to the age of the Internet, it also remains true that in our country we are free to think, and say and write, and publish any idea about any subject without fear of reprisal; which makes us still the freest of nations. This said, our freedoms do not come without cost, and if they are taken for granted and left to linger and die on the vine, then we will one day not have them at all. The internet does provide some challenges within First Amendment law that need addressing, but I have faith that we will get there. You have posed a very good topic here, and I thank you, I have already begun to research it, and hope to have a hub about First Amendment law and the Internet up soon. As always, I thank you for the generosity of your time and your comments, which are always welcome and appreciated. .


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Once books on paper are distributed they are very difficult to control. I don't feel the same way about digital books where changes could be made years after a book is release and future digital distribution would contain a revised version.

Reading over the lists it amuses me that the books appear to be all fiction. I always suspected that Judy Blume was up to no good.

There are groups of people who would like to 'repair' history. They are focusing of fiction and textbooks.

As a bookseller, this Hub hits close to home. The fight against books is progressing rapidly. Digital media vanishess pretty fast - remember floppy disk.

Thanks for the work and effort that you put into this piece of work.


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 5 years ago

this is such a travisty! Huckleberry Finn? This was the first book my children started to read! I think the whole thing is crazy to ban books! what is their reasoning as to what gets banned or not? I know some Television shows that should be banned! good grief! :-(

Bravo to you for sharing..voted up and passed it along..


neakin profile image

neakin 5 years ago

AWESOME Hub! People should be allowed to think for themselves. The books on the list are some of the all time best that everyone should read but some people are small minded I suppose! Thanks for the Hub!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@mckbirdbks - Books, and the written word are probably among my two first loves...Among my most treasured and earliest memories is time spent cuddling with my mother in this great big overstuffed chair and ottoman that used to be in our living room when I was young. There was no television in our living room then, it was in the den, because my mother, who was a voracious reader herself, loved to lay in that chair and read. She loved that chair so much, that it survived two remodelings during my childhood, going to the upholstery shop when all the other furniture went to goodwill or to a yard sale. We spent many afternoons together in that chair, if I close my eyes and think back, I can hear her voice as she read to me, I can hear the pages turning, and I can smell the book in her hands. She taught me to read in that chair, before I ever started kindergarten, so while I like the convience of a kindle in certain situations, I will forever be a purist, and will always prefer the weight, and smell, and feel of a real book in my hands. Judy Blume, I loved Judy Blume as a child, Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, Fudge, and Super-Fudge were some of my favorite books, and I got caught by a nun reading Forever in religion class in 7th or 8th grade....Great Memories.... As for the changing of digital books, it is most definitley a potential target for those who would like to re-write history, and I think that it is something that is going to have to be addressed, maybe some sort of tightening of copyright laws? I am not sure what, but I have faith that a way will be found. Books are an important part of my life, my children's lives, and really should be important in everyone's life as far as I can tell, and the banning, burning, or otherwise censoring of them will I believe only lead to the downfall of society.... As always I thank you for the generosity of your time, and for your comments, they are always both welcomed and appreciated.

Kristen


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Kristen,

“The story of the overstuffed chair.”, sounds like a perfect Hub to me. You and your Mom curled up in a big chair, sharing in the imagination and delight of the story and each others company. Passing the time of day, making memories, cultivating the imagination is so full of charm and warmth. That warm and heartfelt, safety is the pinnacle of what we all seek and what you and your family achieved.

Part of my debate regarding the kindle can be found on Mr. Negative Knickers. I took the anti-kindle position though there are a few legitimate reasons for a reader to own one. (Don’t mention that I said that.) I left many a book laying around for my daughters. Read, color, look at the pictures, but get use to having a book near you. Two out of three are avid readers.

I guess I’ll draw this to a close. Get me started about books and I can go on and on. Though a young friend tells me I know more about the value of books than the content. Maybe he is right.

Have a good night. Sorry for the late response.


docbruin profile image

docbruin 5 years ago from USA

I can't believe some of the books on these lists! Some are very tame by today's standards. I was unaware of this. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California Author

@docbruin - You are very welcome, it is a shame that in this day and age people still cannot seem to understand the concept that if you ban one book, you are risking the banning of all books. If an individual finds a certain book or work to be objectionable, then the individual has the right to not read the book... Thank you so much for the generosity of your time and for your comments, they are always both welcomed and appreciated

Kristen

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