Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week

This Saturday (9/25) begins Banned Books Week, a week of bringing awareness to the numerous books that are challenged every year and attempts of literary censorship.
"The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and 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." - ALA website
Celebrate the freedom to read what you want this coming week!

Read a frequently challenged book. Get the word out about Banned Books Week. Learn about literary censorship and what you can do to prevent it.

I will be re-reading Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (for the six or seven time, I believe) next week, one of my all-time favorite books, which has appeared several times on the Top 10 Most Challenged Books list compiled by the ALA since it's first publication in 1999. I feel supporting Banned Books Week is doubly important for those of us who love YA and Middle Grade and understand the importance of well-written teen books for teens. Many of the books on the challenged list are there because someone (parent, teacher, adult of some kind) has decided that it is not appropriate for the target age group. Teens need the freedom to read what they want. It is extremely important that teens have access to books about sex, drugs, suicide, and other "difficult issues" -- for many teens these books serve as a way to better understand themselves and the world around them. They need these sort of books to find someone to relate to, someone who is like them. We must do what we can to prevent the censorship of what types of books are available for teens to read. Thankfully very few challenged books are actually banned.  

Resources to check out:
ALA's Frequently Challenged Books Site
ALA's Freedom to Read Foundation
Paste Magazine's 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books Everyone Should Read
Carnegie Library of Pittsburg's Banned Books Page

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