Yesterday was the start of Banned Books Week, a week that celebrates our freedom to read by bringing attention to censorship and books that have been banned or challenged across the country. The American Library Association has a lot of great information on the week on their website, and the Banned Books Week website has been hosting a Virtual Readout, where authors and fans read passages from banned books and post them on You Tube.
The ALA has released a list of banned or challenged books from 2010, and 2011, which you can get from the website I linked above. There are some that I’m unsurprised by, but here are the ones that I either found really interesting, or are books that I hold dear to heart.
The Hunger Games. Honestly, I’m more surprised that I don’t hear more about this book being banned, what with all the violence and such. This was only challenged, not banned, because it gave the woman’s 11-year-old nightmares.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This was actually pulled out a program because of “foul language”. Honestly I don’t remember more than a few scattered swear words – or maybe I’m just not a helicopter parent with radar turned on for inappropriate words and was actually paying attention to the content of the story. Maybe.
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. This book is by my previous mentor, Chris Crutcher, but I read it years before I met him in an Adolescent Lit class. Parents challenged it for bad language and “pornography” – while I agree there’s loads of swearing in Crutcher’s book, I can’t remember anything pornographic aside from characters mentioning that they have had sex. This book is pretty overloaded with heavy themes, so the challenge is unsurprising, but I’m shocked the focus isn’t on the religion or abortion or child abuse. (Thought – maybe they didn’t actually read it.)
Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs. Banned in Australia, because it’s about pit bulls. No fooling. I guess in that town you aren’t allowed to own a pit bull, so you’re also not allowed to read about them.
There are loads of other books on the list that I haven’t talked about, so you should read the list and see if any of your favorites make an appearance. Or check previous years and see what’s popped up before (Chris Crutcher makes several appearances.) Looking at the list always makes me want to buy and read something banned, so maybe I’ll pick up a copy of Bone or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’m sure that’s what the challengers want, right?
Have any of your favorite books been banned? Or are you thinking of reading a banned book this week?