Banned Books Week (BBW) for 2015 will be starting today Sept 27 – Oct 3rd. I’ve been writing about this week for the past three years, and I actually love doing it every year because it encourages me to read new books, plus I’m always curious why people would really like to ban reading [which is essentially what people are doing when they ban a particular book], something that is so important to everything we do. I say it best in this post I wrote about Censorship back in 2012. That year, I read and reviewed A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa. I didn’t have a chance to write about a particular book in 2013, but last year, I finally got the chance to read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’m not sure what I’ll read this year, but it will be off one of this year’s lists or the Classics Challenged book list.
As a Librarian, one of my biggest jobs is to encourage parents to read to their kids, as well as encouraging kids and teens to come to the library, not only to use the facilities for homework but also reading for pleasure. So it is sad for me to see books being taken away from kids, especially if the child is a reluctant reader. Young Adult (YA) and Children’s books are usually the biggest targets for Book Banning/Censorship. I liked the way that YA author Laurie Halse Anderson put it: “Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.” As the article where I found that quote says about censorship and in particular Young Adult Literature, “The reality is that censorship is still a problem in this country, and most of the victims are kids. Sometimes books are literally taken out of their hands…YA literature would deserve defending even it helped only a handful of kids. But YA authors like Anderson, Alexie, Crutcher, Lauren Myracle, Lois Lowry, Robert Cormier, and Judy Blume receive thousands of letters from grateful teens every year.”
This year the focus is on YA Literature (books specifically created for kids ages 11 or 12 – 18), and this is a list of books from the American Library Association or ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom for the most frequently challenged books of 2014-15:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
- Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
- Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
- The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
- The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
Here is another booklist of Frequently Challenged or Banned Books from May 2014-March 2015. I was really shocked to find Dr. Seuss books on this list, as well as nearly all of John Green’s books. If you are interested in learning more about fighting censorship, check out the Freedom to Read website, one of the long-time sponsors of BBW.