Every year Banned Books Week (September 30-October 6) is devoted to reminding the reading public and the book community at large that having the freedom to read what we want isn't always a given when it comes to schools and libraries. Though I've seen the list countless times I'm always struck dumb by the titles that are frequently challenged or have been removed from school libraries--the majority of them being some of the most popular titles of the day like The Hunger Games (#3 on the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2011) , or books like The Catcher in the Rye that are synomous with classic literature (see more banned and challenged classics here).
2012 marks the 30th year of Banned Books Week and the American Library Association created a really cool timeline that shows a significant banned or challenged book representing each of the last 31 years (it includes 2012) and the reason each title made the list. It's quite a representation of the big names in publishing and children's books in particular--Maurice Sendak, Katherine Patterson, Kurt Vonnegut, Judy Blume, etc. 2009's representative title may look especially familiar as you've probably been seeing trailers for the movie adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower--the book was challenged in both VA and WI for references to drug use, homosexuality, and suicide. Something tells me there won't be the same reaction to the movie version.
It's hard to believe with all the reality shows that have taken over television in recent years showing young people doing drugs, having sex, not just drinking but getting completely hammered, that BOOKS are still challenged... I get it that these are books in schools and libraries and it's the use of our (rapidly dwindling) public funds that get some people in a twist, but as a parent I would much rather have my kid read about drugs and become more informed, than try to learn by doing. Whatever your thoughts on censorship and books, I hope this week to celebrate reading inspires us all to read something new, share a favorite book, or just remember some of the best reads of your life. Here are a few of my favorite books that have been challenged in recent years--what are yours?
- In the Night Kitchen
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Harry Potter
- The Hunger Games
- The Kite Runner
- And Tango Makes Three