Banned Books Week – Day 1 – What is a banned book anyway?

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It’s Banned Books Week!

In 2015 we are celebrating Young Adult Literature!

Banned Books Week is a “call to action” to “remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant to them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.” – Quote from American Library Association

To celebrate Banned Books week (I am a librarian, after all) I’m going to do “banned books-related” blog posts all this week! Lets start with an introduction/explanation of “banned books.”


What is Banned Books Week?

It’s a weeklong celebration of the Freedom to Read and the fight against censorship! This year we are focusing on celebrating YA Literature. The American Library Association “promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.” Banned Books Week is a way of acknowledging those books which have been challenged or banned, a way of thanking those who fight against such censorship every day (your local librarians!), and a way of celebrating each time a challenge or ban has been thwarted, and such books have been kept on the shelves, where they belong. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported.

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So what is a challenged/banned book, anyway?

A challenge or ban happens when someone in the community attempts (challenge) or succeeds (bans) in removing an item from the collection (usually in a public or school library) because they find something within the material to be offensive or distasteful. Its not that they merely register their opinion on the matter and choose not to read it themselves, rather its when such a person (or group) tries to have the item removed from the entire community. They are trying to take away everyone else’s choice to have access to the material.

***”Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.”***

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Why would someone ban or challenge a book?

The ALA (American Library Association) says:

“Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

One person cannot decide what is acceptable for another person to read, except for decisions made by a parent for their child. Although I do encourage parents to be open-minded about allowing their children to choose their own books. I also encourage minors to have open and honest discussions with a trusted adult if you are concerned about a book’s themes or ideas. There is nothing wrong with finding a book to be unsuitable to you, or in waiting until a later time to read about certain things, or in choosing not to read about certain things. As always, however, it is and should be your personal choice!

You do you!

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Why focus on YA literature this year?

YA books are challenged more often than any other kind of book! Many of these books speak to young adults and touch on many of the issues that young adults are experiencing in their own lives, and provide an outlet for safe exploration of dark, frightening, sad, or even exhilarating experiences. And yet, many of these books are often challenged or banned, usually by adult members of the community who fear these topics may be harmful or unsuitable to the young adults reading them. In 2014, 6 out of 10 on the Top Ten Most Challenged Books list were Young Adult books!


Extras:

Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants talks about Banned Books


Wanted, highly dangerous! If seen lying around please pick up and read immediately!

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I’m curious to know, have you guys read any banned books? What do you think about the reasons a book might be banned? What do you think about the fact that YA books are the most heavily challenged genre?

4 thoughts on “Banned Books Week – Day 1 – What is a banned book anyway?

  1. Thanks for this post. I like hearing/reading about banned books from a librarian’s viewpoint. It always surprises me to learn that a book I loved reading was actually challenged or worse banned somewhere. That’s why this year, in honor of Banned Books Week, I’m purposely reading a banned book. And I’ve chosen to finally read “The Hunger Games.” I don’t know what it is about YA literature being the most banned genre of late, but seems to me the naysayers are trying to keep young adults from growing up and maturing. As if they’re too young to feel and think the way they do. Treating them like kids and putting them in a bubble. But eventually that bubble will burst. It’s almost as if they forgotten how they felt when they were that age.

    Liked by 1 person

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