Friday, September 27, 2013

Banned Book Week is closing, and some books are left unopened. ^UPDATED*

Mark Twain
 Today is the end of Banned Book Week, supported by the American Library Association. The idea of this week is to make yourself and others aware of all the literature which is kept out of people's hands. In schools and libraries books are pulled from the shelves and denied to students and patrons.

Sometimes their can be a valid concern about where the book is placed, like more adult themed material being placed in with children's books. But much of the time it is a matter of someone not caring for ideas being presented, or social and sexual imagery and concepts being presented. The books are dangerous! What an idea. Books are generally dangerous in the most wonderful of ways. As are ideas.

Margaret Atwood
For so long powerful and evocative books, sometimes with complicated views of society and history have been deemed better forgotten. Fahrenheit 451The Grapes of WrathHowl. Leaves of GrassInvisible Man (Ralph Ellison). The Great Gatsby. The Autobiography of Malcolm XOur Bodies, Our SelvesThe Jungle. The Scarlet Letter. The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnTo Kill A Mockingbird. Gone With The Wind. The Call Of The WildThe Red Badge of Courage. Bury My Heart At Wounded KneeWhere The Wild Things Are.

George Orwell
Honestly I look at this list, and the rest at the link and think, "I have a lot of books to reread. And plenty to pick up for the first time.

And now we live in an age where kids books are written about someone having two moms. Or kids dealing with serious real world issues. And for some people this is terrifying. As terrifying as once a book about an island full of boys unsupervised running a muck was to people. Or a book about fighting back against a society that burns books. Or a book about a totalitarian regime against who there can be no victory. Or a book about a boy wizard with a destiny.

Here's a listing for many books that have faced bans over the last 100 years. You can see it continues to this day with books like the Hunger Games and The Perks of Being A Wallflower facing ban challenges. This is a fight to preserve access that will continue for years to come.

Neil Gaiman -
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis
Here's a piece talking to Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, about the bans and conflicts she faced.

Here's a list of some of the week's heroes, working against bans. Let them inspire you.

Here's an article from CNN looking at the week and the struggle many books and libraries continue to face. It also lists books heavily attacked last year, like And Tango Makes Three (about two male penguins who hatched an egg), Kite Runner, Beloved, and Captain Underpants

Ray Bradbury
That CNN list also shows 50 Shades of Grey, a book many of us I know aren't fond of seeing. But that's the point of opposing banning. It's not whether we care for or respect a book. It's the fact people have a right to access all sorts of literature.

Below are some additional notes on more titles that have faced hostility when made available.
And here's some comics that have faced being banned. And as you may note are some amazing award winning works. This includes Spider-Man books, Maus, Persepolis, Sandman, and Tank Girl. And also Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again. A really lousy and loathsome piece, in my mind. But I don't care for people to be denied the right to access and read it themselves and come to hate it just as I did.

J. K. Rowling
Perhaps that's the hidden benefit of this fear of some for some books.

It reminds up how amazing and powerful literature is. And that we should never take it for granted, or loose our love for it.

Literature and literacy. Help it spread.

And for "fun", here's a quiz on some banned books.


NPR found a nice library display looking at famous banned books, and why they were banned.

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