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Banned Books Week

Updated on August 29, 2012

Every year, at the end of September, the ALA declares Banned Books Week. This is chosen to highlight the many books that have been banned or challenged, either by the state, or that have been removed from libraries due to complaints.

These days, Banned Books Week is under attack but those who say it is a fraud and not legitimate. They don't believe that a book being removed from a library is banning that book. Whatever words you couch it in, it is still censorship.

Censorship should be of concern to everyone; no one should denied access to the right to read any book they wish. It is fine if you don't think a book is appropriate for your child to read; it is not fine for you do decide what is appropriate for other people's children.

The reasons for banning and/or challenging books are varied, although charges of racism, homosexuality and sexually explicit content seem to be the most common.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This is an autobiography by Maya Angelou.

This book was challenged on the basis of being sexually explicit. In the book, Angelou describes being raped by her mother's live-in boyfriend when she was eight-years-old.

To Kill a Mockingbird

This novel by Harper Lee is constantly being challenged on the claim that it promotes racism.

This could not be further from the truth. The main characters in this novel are not racists; they are fighting against a racist society. Yes, some characters are racist...but they are portrayed as the bad guys. Like it or not, American society was like that at one time. People used, and still use, racist terms. That is no reason to ban a book or to avoid reading it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

This novel by Mark Twain is often challenged due to the racist themes and the use of the "n" word.

At the time this novel takes place and was written, institutionalized racism was the norm in the American South. Even the main protagonist in the novel, Huckleberry Finn, uses racist language.

However, at the end Huck and his friend Tom fight to save their friend, a slave named Jim. The aim of the author was not to promote racism but to describe the life of a young boy in the American South.


A lot of books have been banned due to their use of certain terms or language. More often than not, people see one offensive word or event and assume the entire story is that way. Many times they have never read the book at all and are just going on what they have heard or read elsewhere.

As a child, I was allowed to choose the books I wanted to read. This taught me how to think for myself and to make my own decisions about what I read.

I will never accept the idea that you must stop ideas, certain language, or certain political beliefs from being aired just because they may offend someone.


2012 is the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week. It has never been more important what with the rewriting of classics, the editing of history books to misrepresent the past and what seems the total lack of interest some have in literature.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I seriously think these books should not be banned. Yes, they may have graphic details in the text; however, why should we prevent our young from reading such books? I'm against banning all types of books because every single story has morals to tell. With "I know why the Caged Bird Sings", the graphic details in that touching story can teach young people personal strengths not found in other texts. I highly believe this facade of "protecting from explicit material" is only adding fuel to a never ending dilemma on a whole sort of different levels.

  • Docmo profile image

    Mohan Kumar 

    6 years ago from UK

    Great hub- The books mentioned here are misunderstood by a minority who claim they promote all manner of things while - as you have clearly illustrated- the reverse is true. I think the freedom of speech and freedom to write should be upheld and readers should be allowed to make up their minds. There is an even more subtle censorship that exists where publishers refuse to publish works that they don't consider commercially viable that stifles creativity and produces worthless clones rather than original works!

  • Laura Ginn profile image

    Laura Ginn 

    7 years ago from UK

    Great hub. If a book is banned it generally gains more publicity than it would have originally... especially to people like me. If a book is banned it makes me want to read it :-)

  • JY3502 profile image

    John Young 

    8 years ago from Florence, South Carolina


  • RNMSN profile image

    Barbara Bethard 

    8 years ago from Tucson, Az

    I have and will continue to read any book from whatever genre that I cant get away from after the first three or four pages :)

    but banning is not a new thing...remember even shakespear was not exempt...several of his plays and writings were not well received lol...

    but my favs of all the bans or tried to ban has to be c lewis and jrr tolkien...both of them were shot down/both for writing about magic and both for writing about the higher power...go figure is right/all the ones on the banned list were then and continue to be didactic tales/morality lessons...its just the most self righteous who get afraid of them/they cut too close to the bone!!

    so we will all keep reading and all keep writing right?

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I make it a point to find titles that have been banned or burned at some point in history and buy a copy for my personal library; it's just my way of thumbing my nose at my fellow Human Beings who believe that they have the right to tell me what I can and cannot read.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I was always allowed to read whatever I wanted as well. Glad I was, read a few amazing books that were 'banned'. Two of my faves are To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye

  • GeneriqueMedia profile image


    9 years ago from Earth

    I find it highly ironic that Ray Bradbury's Farhenheit 451, a book about burning books, has been banned by many schools.



  • countrywomen profile image


    10 years ago from Washington, USA

    Satanic Verses could also be included in Banned books list. Poor Salman had to even face a fatwa for it.

  • Uninvited Writer profile imageAUTHOR

    Susan Keeping 

    10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for all the comments. This is really an important issue these days...still.

  • The Lost Dutchman profile image

    Patrick Bernauw 

    10 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

    They were burned centuries ago... And the nazi's burned them... And these days the ayatollah's are fatwa-ing books... or they are banned! Jeez... For a Lost Dutchman like me, this all sounds like something out of the Dark Ages... But it's happening now... and in the Free West!

  • Dottie1 profile image


    10 years ago from MA, USA

    I didn't know they had a banned books week.  I've read the 3 books above and can't  believe these would even be considered!  They are great books IMO! Interesting hub, thanks!

  • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

    Julie-Ann Amos 

    10 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

    Great hub and fascinating. Really enjoyed this one!

  • miss christina profile image

    miss christina 

    10 years ago

    Hey, great hub. I just posted an article on the most challenged/banned books of 2007. I work at a library and it's great to see how much the librarians encourage reading banned books, although it *is* a really liberal school.

    The funny thing is that a lot of kids are allowed to watch movies or TV shows with violence, offensive language or sexual content. At least with books, they're expanding their minds!

  • Constant Walker profile image

    Constant Walker 

    10 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

    My point exactly, Zsuzsy. Harry Potter was banned by the religious: Evil. Devil. UnChristian!

    I can only shake my head...

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 

    10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Great Hub! Banning books is clearly a case of ignorance breeding ignorance. In most cases banning something will only activate the curious. Let's remember what happened to Harry Potter... he was banned and we all know what became of that...... regards Zsuzsy

  • Constant Walker profile image

    Constant Walker 

    10 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

    Good hub, Uninvited. I would be willing to bet a month's pay the most, if not all, of those banning books are doing it for religious reasons.

  • Uninvited Writer profile imageAUTHOR

    Susan Keeping 

    10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for the great comments.

    I agree with what you said Marian, you miss a lot of the nuances when you are a child and what you don't understand you either forget or ask about it.

  • Marian Swift profile image

    Marian Swift 

    10 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

    Great Hub, thank you.  Librarians are true cultural heroes, especially in this post-911 era.

    I grew up in a house full of books, all kinds, and I was allowed to read them all.  (No encouragement necessary!)

    Mom also persuaded the local library branch to let me read and borrow books in the adult stacks.

    Much of what I read went over my head, because I was just too young to grasp nuances.  But because our family talked about books, we could talk about sensitive content -- or leave it alone -- based on what I was ready to learn.

    I learned to read well and deeply, and to choose quality over junk.

    We all deserve that opportunity.  In fact, a sane, intelligent society requires it.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 

    10 years ago from New Brunswick

    Choice is one of the cornerstones of freedom.

  • Paraglider profile image

    Dave McClure 

    10 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

    UV - Keep fighting the good fight. Books should not be banned, and the three you have highlighted are proper literary works, not "nasties" of any sort. Huck Finn has probably the best descriptions ever written of the Mississippi delta and its life.

  • LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

    Kathryn Skaggs 

    10 years ago from Southern California

    Touchy issue here.  Banning a book is a serious consideration in this Country, where we honor freedom of speech.  However, where books are placed can always be the "right" of various establishments and their audience of readers, what is appropriate, etc...

    I doubt that there will ever be a consensus for every book, in every circumstance.  But, we cannot allow our "rights" to allow those who abuse that right to have free access to large sects of the people.

    Adults can decide for themselves whether to pick-up a book and read it.  Children however, deserve our protection from what the majority of responsible parents would consider "adult content". 




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