September 25th through October 2nd is Banned Book Week! If you are not familiar with Banned Book Week, here is a little bit of information from the American Library Association (ALA) website:
“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.Sometimes books are challenged and banned and the reasons can be pretty silly. We compiled a list of some children’s books that have been challenged over the years. Have you or your children read of them?
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.
The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.”
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl has been removed and challenged many times, but the main reason is because it is “too depressing” and “a real downer”. The most recent removal of the book was this year in Culpeper County, Virginia after a parent complained that the book contained “sexually explicit material” and “homosexual themes.”
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl has been challenged many times because people believe that it promotes drug use, violence, and obscenity. Another parent blogged that she felt the Aunts in the book would give her daughter body image issues, since one is tall and thin and the other is short and round.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin, Jr was banned in January 2010 by the Texas Board of Education after they confused Bill Martin, Jr. with another author named Bill Martin, who has strong Marxist ideas. These two men are not related.
The Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein is a beloved book of poems and also a very controversial one. This book was actually banned in the early 1990s from one school in Florida. The reasons? Well the poem, "How Not To Have To Dry The Dishes" supposedly encourages children to break dishes so they do not have to dry them. Also, the poem, “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony" was considered too morbid since it discussed death. There have also been other complaints because the book mentions supernatural beings including ghosts and demons.
Harriet, the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh was challenged because it taught children to lie, spy and back talk to their parents.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig was challenged in the 1970’s by the Illinois Police Association, along with 11 other states, because the police in this story were portrayed as pigs.
Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford was banned because of nudity. In one of the earliest printings, the beach scene features a sunbather who loses her top.
The ALA has partnered with Google Maps to create a map of the US that documents all the recent challenged books. To view the map, click here!
We hope to see you in the library soon! Maybe you can help us pick the next banned book!