Dear Fellow Reader,
Banned book week is upon us. If you are not familiar with it, Banned Book Week is held annually by the American Library Association. The American Library Association (ALA) asks its members to report on attempts to ban books.
This year from September 23 – 29, there will be activities by the ALA and its member libraries to bring the topic of the censorship of books to the awareness of the public. Each year, the ALA publishes the list of the top ten books that have been challenged during the past year. These are the books that have been reported to the ALA as books that for one reason or another some group or person has decided the book should not belong on library shelves, in the classroom, or in school libraries.
“Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”
“The Top 10 Challenged books for 2017 are as follows:
- Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
- Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
- The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
- George written by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
- Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex educationand is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
- To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
- The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
- And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
- I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.”
One of the books that I have recommended to you during the past year made the list. The Hate U Give is a powerful look at race relations. I was moved by the book and felt that it was a book that everyone should read.
Surprisingly, The Bible is not on the list this year. It is frequently on the list. Which goes to show you that everyone can find something offensive and that to be free, you need speak out against censorship, even if you don’t like the book. For example, I have never been a fan of The Kite Runner. But it is a piece of fiction that people have really liked and because of this, they have learned about a world other than their own. While it wasn’t my cup of tea, I firmly believe that you should be able to read it if you want to. I have never felt that anyone else should dictate what I read and therefore, I cannot object to other’s choices.
The ALA has a video about this year’s Banned Book Week.