Celebrate freedom to read: Banned Books Week

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” — Jo Godwin

Banned Books Week is observed during the last week of September each year. Librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country use Banned Books Week to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

The annual event reminds us not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. It celebrates the freedom to choose and the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular. Banned Books Week also stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of these diverse viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

After all, intellectual freedom can only exist where individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate. In addition, it requires that society ensures the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.

Book Buzz this week offers sample of challenged (attempt to remove or restrict a book based on the objection of a person or group) or banned (actual removal or restriction) books that are available to read at your local public library. Although each of these titles was the target of attempted bans, most of the books are still available, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in their collections. The selection below comes from the American Libraries Association’s record of frequently challenged books. With books for children, teens and adults, the list also includes some frequently banned and challenged classics.

Celebrate your freedom to read! Read a banned book.

And Tango Makes Three

By Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Children’s Picture Books: Richardson

Reasons for challenges or banning: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group.

In the Night Kitchen

By Maurice Sendak

Children’s Picture Books: Sendak

Reasons for challenges or banning: nudity.

His Dark Materials (trilogy)

The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

By Philip Pullman

Young Adult Science Fiction: Pullman

Reasons for challenges or banning: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence.

The Hunger Games (series)

By Suzanne Collins

Young Adult Fiction Collins

Reasons for challenges or banning: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence.

TTYL, TTFN, L8R, G8R (series)

By Lauren Myracle

Young Adult Fiction: Myracle

Reasons for challenges or banning: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group.

Twilight

By Stephanie Meyers

Young Adult Fiction Meyers

Reasons for challenges of banning: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, offensive language.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie

Adult Fiction: Alexie

Reasons for challenges or banning: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence.

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini

Young Adult and Adult Fiction: Hosseini

Reasons for challenges or banning: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

Classics: Twain

Reasons for challenges or banning: profane and offensive language, racism, support of racism.

The Color Purple

By Alice Walker

Classics: Walker

Reasons for challenges or banning: violence, sexual conduct, racism.

The Grapes of Wrath

By John Steinbeck

Classics: Steinbeck

Reasons for challenges or banning: profanity, libel, political viewpoint, subversive material.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

Classics: Lee

Reasons for challenges or banning: racial slurs, profanity, frank discussion of rape.

• Carolyn Larson, head librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, brings you the buzz on new, popular and good books available at your neighborhood library. Book annotations are culled from online publishers’ descriptions and published reviews.

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