Banned Books Challenge

bannedbooksI read a post in August from Rita_h at My Home of Books about banned books. There is a list of 100 books on her blog and at the American Library Association site (Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009).

Banned Book Week 2013 is next week–September 22-28. It’s interesting to go to the ALA website and read through the golden compassdifferent lists and articles about banned and challenged books. In the list Rita_h has used The Harry Potter series is number 1 on this list! So many of the books on this list really surprised me (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley–for example).

I understand parents need to monitor and talk to their kids about the books they read, but I don’t think books should be outright banned. The ALA states:

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA’s basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

Rita_h has issued a challenge to read and write a short review of at least one book on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.

handmaids-taleFor Banned Book Week I’m reading The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman right now and have also started The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

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What are your thoughts about banned or challenged books? Have you read any of these books? Did you read them as a child or as an adult?