Can you imagine not being able to decide what books you can read or not read? If you don't believe me, just click on this Google Map which documents books bans and challenges around the United States from 2007-2010. Think it couldn't be possible in a liberal state such as California? Think again!
In 2009, Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was restricted to students with parental permission at the Ocean View School District middle school libraries in Huntington Beach, Calif. because the “book’s contents were inappropriate for children.” There are other incidents of book bans or challenges in California as well.
So how can you participate? Celebrate by picking up a banned or challenged book this week. If you're not so inclined to pick up a book, watch a movie based on a banned or challenged book. Not sure what titles have been banned, ALA (American Library Association) publishes a list every year. Even classics have been banned or challenged.
Check out the 11 Most Surprising Banned Books. Even more surprising was finding out that the popular Junie B. Jones series would be in danger of being challenged or banned in my search for more information on challenged materials. Check out the commentary in Business & Heritage Clarksville about why this popular beginning readers series would cause such ruckus. Through the month of September and until October 2nd, they are running a commentary on a different book almost every day. Some of the titles included are: "The Face on the Milk Carton", "Rainbow Boys", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Lovely Bones". Kids books include "In the Night Kitchen", "My Brother Sam is Dead", "Summer of my German Soldier" and "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry".
Banned Books Week runs from September 25-October 2 which celebrates the freedom to read. This event is not just sponsored by ALA but by bookseller associations, journalists, authors, and publishers. "Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States." (ALA, 2008). For those of you who wonder why books would be banned or challenged, read what ALA has to say.
I love this year's theme: "Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same". Currently, I'm taking a Children's Literature class so I re-read "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume. It's hard to believe a classic such as this would be challenged. This book made growing up just a little easier. And it endeared me all over again when I saw now why it was why it was one of my daughter's favorite books as well. It touched both of us for different reasons. It's hard to believe this book made the list for the 100 most frequently challenged books in 2000-2009 and 1990-1999. And it's even harder for me to imagine not being able to read this book. According to ALA, "Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information." Please join me this week in celebrating the right to read by picking up a banned or challenged book you've never read or an old favorite.