Skip to main content

It's the 27th Annual Banned Books Week, and librarians, teachers and book lovers throughout the country are commemorating with various activities and protests against censorship.  The ALA is one of several sponsors of the week, which the organization sees as an opportunity to "educate librarians and the general public about the importance of intellectual freedom," says Jim Rettig, ALA president.  "Individuals must have the freedom to choose what materials are suitable for themselves and their families." According to the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF), "book banning is alive and well", with 460 complaints filed in 2009 attempting to have a book removed from a library or classroom.  The majority of challenges to books, 71%, come from schools, with parents lodging 61% of these complaints. (A challenge is defined as "a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.")  The proliferation of the Young Adult genre in recent years may correlate to the large number of challenges, as these novels often tackle subject matter that some may deem 'inappropriate'. The traditional mode of protest during Banned Books Week is to read a banned book, and there are several creative variations scheduled to take place this year.  Many bookstores, libraries and schools will have special displays dedicated to banned books, readings of those books, and some will host the authors of censored works.  In Arizona, volunteers at the Yuma County Library will each read from a banned book for thirty minutes while sitting in makeshift jail cells.  At a Catholic high school in California, students will wrap banned titles in caution tape and encourage other students to review them.  The American Booksellers' Foundation for Free Expression has also compiled a list of ways for individuals to commemorate the week, in case there are no scheduled events or readings taking place near you. The Top Ten Banned/Challenged Books of the Past Decade: 1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling 2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier 4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell 5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou 7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz 8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman 9. ttyl (series), by Lauren Myracle 10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky An interesting blog post on the subject of censorship and social media: Twitter: Banned Books Best Friend Book Banning Alive and Well in the US Why are parents banning schoolbooks? In tradition of Twain, authors lash out at censors this week