Celebrate Freedom: Read a Banned Book

It’s time for the American Library Association’s annual Banned Book Week. Twilight made the list of challenged books again this year. Check out the press release from the ALA. We highlighted the passage that most closely matches our opinion.

What do books from the Twilight series, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Catcher in the Rye” have in common? All have faced removal from library bookshelves in the United States within the past year.

From coast to coast, libraries and bookstores will battle censorship and celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, Sept. 25 – Oct. 2, 2010. Thousands of participants will read from banned or challenged books and will discuss the impact censorship has on civil liberties.

Each year, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives hundreds of reports on book challenges, which are formal written requests to remove a book from a library or classroom because of an objection to the book’s content. There were 460 recorded attempts to remove materials from libraries in 2009 and more than 11,000 attempts recorded since OIF began compiling information on book challenges in 1990.

Not every book is right for each reader, but we should have the right to think for ourselves and allow others to do the same,” said ALA President Roberta Stevens. “The founders of this nation protected freedom of expression based on their conviction that a diversity of views and ideas is necessary for a vital, functioning democracy. Danger does not arise from viewpoints other than our own; the danger lies in allowing others to decide for us and our communities which reading materials are appropriate. How can we live in a free society and develop our own opinions if our right to choose reading materials for ourselves and our families is taken away? We must remain diligent and protect our freedom to read.”

In many cases, it is only through public concern and citizen involvement that books are saved from confiscation or from being kept under lock and key. For example in Stockton, Mo., concerned citizens spoke out during school board meetings and persuaded the school board to reconsider its ban of Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award –winning novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” While the work of these citizens is not done, their ongoing campaign to encourage the Stockton school board to reverse its decision demonstrates how public support for the right to read freely can help prevent the suppression of literature and ideas.

This year will mark the 29th annual celebration of Banned Books Week. This year’s observance will kick off in Chicago on Sept. 25, as best-selling banned authors participate in a “Read Out!” event. Participating authors include the most frequently challenged author of 2009, Lauren Myracle (the ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r series); Chris Crutcher (“Athletic Shorts”) and many others.

Many bookstores and libraries celebrating Banned Books Week will showcase selections from the ALA OIF’s “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009.” The list is released each spring and serves as a comprehensive snapshot of book removal attempts in the U.S. The “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009” reflects a range of themes and consists of the following titles:

ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Drugs, Nudity, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
“And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
“The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Anti-Family, Drugs, Homosexuality, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Sexually Explicit, Suicide, Unsuited to Age Group,
“To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Offensive Language, Racism, Unsuited to Age Group
Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
“Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
“My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Drugs, Homosexuality, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Suicide, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
“The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
“The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group

For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Web site at www.ala.org/bbooks, or www.bannedbooksweek.org.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of College Stores and is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Comments

  1. I was planning on reading To Kill A Mockingbird anyways but will make it a point now.

    I fought against my parents long & hard for the freedom that comes with adulthood. There’s no way in heck I’ll let someone else tell me what’s acceptable to read or not.

  2. This is great! Good to see you guys support reading! I’ve read most of the books on this list but I’ll def add the rest to my reading list.

  3. Just tell me how in the heck Stephenie’s books are sexually explicit???? I think it’s just the religion/moral values thing and if that is the case shouldn’t they then try to ban all religious books? Including the bible?

    • LOL! Anyone who knows anything about the Bible knows that it is a DIRTY book. I mean, we’re talking sex, violence, racism, sexism, homosexuality, polygamy, adultery, theft, murder, lying, cheating, hatred, scorn, war, harlots, you name it, its there. PEOPLE WHO BAN BOOKS ARE HYPOCRITES AND HAVE LITTLE MINDS!

      Most books that have this “offensive stuff” in them are actually challenging it. Like “To Kill a Mockingbird” points out how racism is WRONG. “A Handmaid’s Tale” is about subjugation of women to show how it ruins a society.

      On another note “Are You There God, Its Me, Margaret” is banned because it has menstruation in it. NEWSFLASH! Every woman in the world experiences periods; and their husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends, etc. are well aware of it. Its a natural part of life that is not sexual or violent or offensive in any way, so why ban something that talks about it?

      And I’d just like to point out that the reason I became a fan of Twilight was because it was NOT sexually explicit, despite the fact that everyone equates vampires with sex. Bella and Edward built a relationship that was based on love, not lust. Chapter 13 of Twilight is an incredibly intimate scene (you know, when they are touching each-other’s faces) WITHOUT being sexually explicit.

  4. I Fought My Daughter’s School When They Tried To Ban The Harry Potter Series. I Cannot Strees More The Benifits Of Expression And Creativity. I Won That Fight, And I Will Fight Over The Twilight Series, If It Should Ever Come To That, But I Think They Learned Their Lesson The First Time. Im A Mom, And I Belive In The Right To Choose, Noone Should Ever Take That Away From Us…… GO STEPHENIE :)

  5. This all could really be settled by having some sort of warning before the beginning of the book. But should publishers/authors issue warnings in the beginning of their books about language/violence/sex/etc that is in their novel?
    Would that mean that anyone under a certain age would need to get their parents to sign a form saying they can check out a certain book from a library or from school if there’s something inappropriate in it or even worse, reject them from reading a book until they’re a certain age?
    But of course that’s poppy cock.

    Do you think the people who want the books banned are parents or students that have read the books?

    I think it’s completely assinine for anybody to want to ban these classic literary novels. I would have a much less regard for literature if it wasn’t for books like To Kill A Mockingbird, Farhenheit 451, 1984 among others that I’ve read and novels I have yet to read.

  6. So having good Christian values is a bad thing? I bet the people saying that are just saying that because SM is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (AKA Mormons.) It’s not like she’s secretly put in beliefs that are specific to that church.

    Sexually explicit? Come on people!! Even when they finally are together as man & wife there’s nothing explicit!! It fades to black.

    I am so glad that we have people who fight for what this country stands for FREEDOM of speech, religion, ect. I totally agree with the part that you highlighted!

    • Twilight dreamers says:

      I agree, the whole thing is just a big fuss! Twilight is one of the cleanest books I have ever read! In fact when I first tried to use it for a book report, the teacher told me I couldnt because it was sexually inappropriate! After getting a friend to confirm It was in no way inappropriate, my mother and I read the books side by side, she agrees If twilight was inappropriate I WOULD NOT be reading the books! To think, if it wasnt for my friend and her I would have never read the books and would have been denied a wonderful read, I wouldnt even be here! (now thats a scary thought!) The religion, is a small talk about souls and morals but not a certain religion! The sex, please! Its all kissing and they only have sex after they are married and are HUSBAND AND WIFE! then it just fades into black! Please dont ban books, parents should take responsibility for what their kids read, its their job! Please dont ban kinds of wonderful stories that they could come to love (and be obsessed with) Please NEVER BAN A BOOK!!

  7. First off: There is nothing in Twilight that talks about religion. Yes, they have that whole ‘Edward: I won’t change you, soul, blah blah’ but… seriously? That’s NOTHING. Why not ban the bible? THAT has PLENTY of bad stuff in it. Religion, explict, cussing… Not to mention it’s insulting to non-religious people.

    In NO way is it sexually explict. Seriously? The worse in there is kissing.

    Why not let the parents and kids descide what’s okay for they’re age group themselves?

    I’ll make a point to read these books.

  8. well, at least they didn’t protest Twilight because a hundred year old vampire dates a high school teenager…lol

  9. The Colour Purple?! Are they kidding? As far as I’m concerned, every woman and girl on the planet should read that book, and learn from it about how strong and wonderful they are.

  10. I think that it’s funny that “To Kill a Mocking Bird” is a commonly banned book because that’s what we are reading in my school.

  11. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: Religious Viewpoint stupid it’s just fantasy about vampires and werewolves so everything should be possible in a fanfiction.,

    Sexually Explicit,, Even more strange,, I mean America is the inventor of porn and than this is a problem 0_0… And also there are books whom have it worse than Twilight in twilight there stands actually almost nothing sexually explicit.

    Let’s just say I’m happy that I’m not living in America about that part with those strange ways of thinking when it goes about sexual things :D

    • What country do you live in, and can I move there?!

      The only reason there are banned books or anything else banned for that matter is because parents don’t want to do their jobs. They don’t want to talk to their children about anything, let alone the subjects brought up in the books. They think that because they have a full time job outside of the home, they don’t have time to ensure that their kids are being taught the things that they, the parents, believe in. They want everyone else to do it instead. It’s complete crap. This country was founded on freedom of every kind, not just what snooty too-busy-for-you people want.

    • well let me say that I couldn’t be more proud to live in America. I would say that the reasons these books are banned have little to do with sexuality, especially when it comes to Twilight, and has more to do with an agenda by some to strip any kind of moral compass out of our lives. the last thing some in the US want is for Americans to be governed by a belief that our values come from a higher power. If that ever happens God help us all.

      These books should not be banned, they should however be in schools where the age is appropriate. I don’t think they should be in Elementary schools but see no reason why they shouldn’t be in Junior High or High Schools. We read some of them when I was in High School and I didn’t find them inappropriate. There is something else driving this.

  12. At the moment I am a bit shocked… How on earth did Twilight end up on that list? The bible is MUCH worse.
    I think that these people choosing the books have too much free time on their hands. *sigh*
    It’s not April 1st today, is it?

  13. I’m the type of person that if you tell me not to do something, I will do it. People saying that these books are banned (or trying to be banned) wants to make me want to read them even more. Some of the books I’ve never heard of like ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle. I think after I get off work today, I will stop by my local library and see if they have this book to check out. (See how trying to ban books is a BAD thing..??!! LOL)

  14. To Kill A Mockingbird is a fabulous book. That kills me. I like how Twilight is sexually explicit. Please. I know a lot of us older fans wish it were.

  15. Oh and isn’t there something to be said for Twilight turning young adults on to reading. How about the numbers? Sales of Romeo & Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Wuthering Heights etc have gone up in past years because they are simply mentioned in Twilight.

  16. WTF??! Sexually explicit? These people didn’t read anything, there is NO actual sex described on the ‘sex scene’, it’s just implied and they are married for crying out loud! There is no religious view point in the matter, we are all thought by our parents that sex should happen within marriage. People can do as they want in this matter but the book is not promoting or forcing this view on anyone. Hello! Read without prejudice and pass fair judgement onto the views of others.

  17. I think that this whole article is ridiculous! Most of these books I read when I was in high school, and I have read most of them again once I was out of high school in order to enjoy them without the assignments! To touch on what a lot of people are saying…around my state (Delaware-yes it is a state :) ) the bible is banned because it causes too many problems in school. One school is required to have see-through bookbags and my friend was suspended because she refused to remove her bible and throw it away. I believe (especially in high school) that everyone should be allowed to read whatever they want! Oh well I don’t think that people are ever going to change when it comes to banning books. If you don’t like it don’t read it! :)
    P.S. I think it is ridiculous to think that Twilight has anything sexual in there. It is definitely better than some of the books I have read in school.

  18. What kills me is the “The Earth My Butt and Other Big Round Things” By Carolyn Mackler. Sexually explicit? I don’t think so. Yes, there is mention (spoiler) that the girls brother raped a girl, but it DOES NOT go into detail, just that he was kicked out of his college. And maybe when the girl stands in front of her mirror naked and pinches herself as punishment for being overweight. But how that is sexual is beyond me. I think it’s more of a “We don’t like fat people” issue than it is anything else. I love that book, I’m overweight, and that book made me more comfortable in my own skin. I highly recommend the book to anyone! It promotes SELF ESTEEM! Something girls need this day, that it is okay to be DIFFERENT and that you don’t have to look like the skinny … women… in the magazines.

  19. i dont tink twilight is sexal at all only in braeking dawn but bella and edward are married but people if you dont want your child reading it tell them no. i fought with my mom to raed the seris and i won and i am at a eight grade reading levle so thes people should shut up adout it and leve twilight and new moon ,eclipse ,breaking bawn alone if you dont want your child to read it dont let them but you should let them it is a good book

  20. haha ive ready a lot of these books and im 14 lmao…i dont think twilight is inappropriate for the age group; they dont even include detailed sex scenes, all there really is is kissing and the seduction scene in eclipse…big whoop dee doo

  21. Twilibrarian says:

    As a high school librarian, I will protect and defend any student’s right to read, listen to, or view materials. A parent can only censor their own child, and no one else’s child. While I agree not everything is age appropriate, it is a parental decision to allow/disallow. I love Banned Book Week! It is such a great teaching tool!

  22. Again, most critics don’t do their research before they whine and complain. I also heard that Speak was on that list this year because some guy in Missouri said it had “sex” in it.

    C’mon! Anyone who’s read the book or seen the movie based on in knows that the sex was forced (aka, date rape) and we can’t be ignorant of society’s ills because we don’t like them. Many teens have learned from Speak, and although they’re fantasy and for pleasure reading, the Twiligh books are no different. Both books have relevant lessons for teens.

    Ignorance gave rise to the Nazis in Germany, Facist in Italy, and the Communist in Russia. This all kinda goes back to arguments against that MSNBC article that was released recently.

    Censorship is the job of parents, not libraies. I know that libraries, public and private, and book stores sell objectionable material as far as young teens go. But it’s the kids and parents’ decision on what’s best.

    Again, adults aren’t giving teens credit for being smart and mature, and that’s ignorance in and of itself.

  23. How is Twilight “sexually explicit”???? i honestly dont understand! was there something i missed?

  24. i think this is highly funny. I read both “the color purple” and “to kill a mocking bird” while i was a freshmen in highschool. Twilight sexual to me is funny my 10 year old cousin loves the series, and loves reading now because of it. Now and days you can turn on the local stations and the shows have more sexual situations in them. Yet they are not banned just a simple warring at the start of the program. Its the parents job to do this not the goverenment. Yet we live in the land of free, so why are they trying to control us? Im ordering all the books on this list right now. I need to see what all the “fuss” is about.

  25. I read 1984 in 6th grade and I turned out just fine.

  26. Criminal profilers from the FBI have said that if people want to stop deviant behavior, don’t ban books like Catcher In The Rye, ban magazines like Hustler. Some people see evil in everything because they are looking for it. Evil isn’t the problem, it’s people who look for it.

  27. Are they seriously trying to pull books because of “HOMOSEXUALITY”?!?!?!?! REALLY??!?!?!?! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of! So all of these books deal with stuff that happens in real life. If that is reason to pull books, then why are we alive? If real life isn’t suited for us then there’s no point in living, right? So stupid.

  28. Awesomeness says:

    My Sister’s Keeper was 1 of the saddest books I’ve ever read. It was extremely sad and if u don’t like sad books u shouldn’t read it. I personally loved the book and the movie sucked compared to it! READ THAT BOOK AND OTHER BOOKS ON THE LIST!!! I haven’t read any other books on the list besides the twilight saga but I’ll make a point to!

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