Banned Books Week: What You Need to Know
Censorship is alive and well, as highlighted by Banned Books Week—and you might be surprised by some of the most-challenged titles over the past year.
Public libraries across the country, including here in Macomb Township, are encouraging people to peak into some controversial books in honor of this being Banned Books Week.
The annual event has been held since 1982 during the last week of September to remind Americans "not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted," according to the American Library Association.
Jamie Morris, community relations specialist for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, said CMPL has never removed a book from its selves because of a complaint or challenge.
"We make people aware of Banned Books Week to remind the community that the library is a place for everyone," Morris said. "The librarians collect materials that will appeal to a broad number of people and while there may be books here that not everyone likes, we hope that since we have such a large collection that everyone will be able to find something that appeals to them. It’s about the freedom to choose what you read and what you don’t."
Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.
Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:
- ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
- The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
- Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
- The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
If you’re interested in celebrating Banned Books Week as part of a lesson for your kids—or simply to feel like a rebellious reader—check out these additional resources:
- Mapping Censorship, a visual representation of places books have been challenged in the US, created from cases documented by the ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project
- Virtual Read-Out, a worldwide celebration of the freedom to read, featured on a dedicated Banned Books Week YouTube channel
- State-by-state listing of BBW events
- Banned Books Week on Facebook and Twitter
- Free BBW downloads from the ALA, like badges and Facebook cover art