Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014- What Do We Ban

Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.”-ALA

Happy National Banned Books Week everyone!

This is a very special time of the year when we get to reflect on the issue of restricting books in the public sphere and who it effects. This year’s Banned Books Week lands this week: September 21−27, 2014. So if you haven’t started celebrating, now is a good time as any to experience the gratification of reading what we want.  

As always there is a lot that can be said in regards to the maintenance of our freedom to read, and the freedom to restrict what our nation’s young readers have access too. The difficulty, however, seems to fall in harmonizing what is deemed humorous and acceptable with what is deemed inappropriate and too vulgar for children and young adults. For example, the popular Captain Underpants Series remains in the lead on the challenged books lists for a second year, but many find it humorous and perfectly suitable for its young audience.

Dav Pilkey, author of the Capitan Underpants Series, offers a key point against the challenges his books face. “How could people be so offended by a series that contains no profanity, no sex, no nudity, no drugs, no smoking, no alcohol, no guns, and no more violence than a children’s superhero cartoon.” (See what you think- Watch Short Clip Here)

During this week perhaps consider why we as a society feel the need to restrict children from reading this year’s challenged books (provided below) and more importantly what are we considering unsuitable for young readers. Also consider the idea that once a book is challenged or banned, would it not encourage children to find it and read it out of curiosity for what they “should not read”?

Regardless books have been around for generations. Original fairy tales are known for sneaking in content that would be considered completely inappropriate for children. It also means, however, that it would widen the view of what is acceptable for children and at what age it might be appropriate for them.

If you look over the banned book list you may recognize quiet a few names. Shockingly, many were once taught in elementary and middle school classrooms as English curriculum. And now that they have been officially banned, it begs the question, what really happened to those young readers who read them once upon a time?

Here are the latest books being challenged. This is 2013’s most challenged book list and the ideas behind banning them according to the American Library Association:

1.  Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey

- Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2.  The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

- Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4.  Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5.  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

- Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
6.  A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
7.  Looking for Alaska, by John Green

- Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

- Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9.  Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
10.  Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
 Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Additional Notes: