Monday, October 1, 2012

Celebrate the freedom to read

This is the thirtieth anniversary of the American Library Association's Banned Book Week. This year it began on September 30 and will run through October 6. Around the country, libraries will be calling attention to the freedom that we have to read what we choose, and they will be highlighting those books which have caused the greatest amount of controversy for library systems and have had the most challenges within the last year.

The ten most-challenged books within the past year are these:
  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism
Most of these are children's or young adult books, and those who challenge them probably have the best of intentions of protecting the young from things which they feel might upset them. The most common reasons for challenging a book seem to be anything related to sex or anything with a religious viewpoint. 

Although I freely admit that I am not familiar with some of the books, I'm willing to bet that kids and young adults are tough enough to survive reading them without harm. I'm also willing to bet that most of them see much more upsetting and wholly inappropriate scenes on television every day.

The only one of these books that I've actually read is To Kill a Mockingbird. Brave New World has been on my "to be read" list for a while and I will get around to it one of these days. A few months ago, my younger daughter gave me The Hunger Games to read. Maybe in honor of Banned Books Week I'll read that next. 

But first I have to finish reading The Canterbury Tales. Now, talk about your offensive language, sexual explicitness, religious viewpoint, insensitivity, violence and nudity, they are all here! That Chaucer was one bawdy old fart!  

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