Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week: September 24--October 1

What do Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird all have in common? (Besides the animals.) These books are all on the American Library Association (ALA) list of banned and challenged classics. According to their website, "each year, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to have books removed from library shelves and from classrooms." In response, hundreds of libraries and bookstores nationwide address the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books.

Join Banned Books Week with a virtual read-out, staged annually since 1982. Since then, more than 11,000 books have been challenged! This year, everyone is invited to create a video of themselves reading from their favorite banned or challenged book and upload it to a special Banned Books Week channel.

Among the 10 most challenged titles of 2010 were the following books for children and teens:

  • And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson--a children's book about the true tale of two male penguins in NY's Central Park Zoo who formed a couple and were given an egg to raise.
  • The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins--YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy
  • Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer--popular YA vampire romance
"Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them."
With a shout out to Captain Underpants--on the list for 3 years and a favorite of my four nephews--I recommend the Kids' Right to Read Project, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the lovely essay, Living with Captain Underpants, published at Literary Mama by my MFA professor, Lisa Catherine Harper. As I've posted before, this "argument for her five-year-old Finn's joy of books is such a tender portrayal of love--for her son and for literature--that it made me cry."

To celebrate anti-censorship, freedom of speech and access to information, check out the American Booksellers' Online Children's Book Art Auction to Support Free Speech for Kids (on eBay). Join SF's celebration, Banned by the Bay, including the Great SF Read-Out October 1.

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