9/27/08

Banned Books Week is September 27 to October 4

This year, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is September 27 through October 4.

Recognized by booksellers and librarians across the nation and promoted by the American Library Association (ALA), readers are encouraged to think about intellectual freedom and freedom of expression through books.

According to the ALA, Banned Books Week also
celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

Me, it makes me want to read banned or frequently challenged books. Visit the ALA Web site for a list of challenged books over the years.

What, may you ask, is considered a banned or challenged book? You'd be surprised. Well, some you wouldn't because they're old hat: The Color Purple, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, A Wrinkle in Time.

Then, there are the ones you could see coming — Heather Has Two Mommies, Daddy's Roommate — because they introduce ideas and lifestyles that some people don't agree with expressing or revealing. (The latter book was introduced into the current presidential campaign in the New York Times.)

Finally, there are the ones that make you scratch your heads: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, And Tango Makes Three. (Click on the links to read my reviews.)

For me, Banned Books Week is a celebration of books and freedom of expression. More importantly, I want to see if there's anything to the fuss. I don't turn away from controversy, but wade into the middle of it. I research that which is being protested. If you tell me that something shouldn't be read, what do you think I do? I read it!

So, start shopping at your local library or bookstore. Read the challenged book and see for yourself if it's all that and a bag of chips.

Don't let others decide what you can read. Never let others make decisions for you. You're smarter than that. So go exercise that brain and your freedom. See what it's all about.

And whether you agree or not, decide what your course of action will be. This is, after all, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Be both.

6 comments:

SafeLibraries.org said...

Banned Books Week is "shameless propaganda ... now institutionalized with a week of its own." Seemingly talking about this blog post, "Those who are spreading hysteria about book banning and censorship know that they are in a war, but too many of those who thoughtlessly repeat their rhetoric do not."

Go to this link to see who said this and more on the topic: http://preview.tinyurl.com/sowell

Even a former ALA Councilor said:

"It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much--the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all."

The US Supreme Court said in a case the ALA lost big, US v. ALA:

"The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

ALA misinformation does not trump the US Supreme Court, does it?

Chris said...

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
- Voltaire

... well, maybe not the death, but I'll post your viewpoint and let readers decide for themselves.

SafeLibraries.org said...

Great, you are fair. And funny too. A great combination.

wookyluvr said...

I'm not familiar with the politics of this issue, but the Supreme Court case you cite appears to deal with limiting minors' access to searching for internet porn on library computers. I don't see how that relates to Huckleberry Finn or A Wrinkle in Time or other "frequently-challenged" books. My kids have my permission to get any book in the library that they are interested in. If they were interested in a book, and they couldn't find it in the library, I'd try to find it somewhere to buy for them. My kids, by the way, are 3 and 7. I don't plan to ever tell them they can't read a book. I remember my aunt telling me she did this for her kids back in the 1960s. She told the librarian at their small town public library that her kids were not to be limited to the "children's section" and had her permission to take out any book they wanted. I think it's a great paradigm.

Chris said...

Good point, Wook.

I had a few issues with this entry myself.

One was the inappropriate links: the quote from the "former ALA Councilor" doesn't appear on the page to which readers are directed, and is off-topic of my essay. (BTW, the former councilor does not appear to be anti-Banned Book Week in the blog entry linked from the SL blog entry: http://www.librarian.net/stax/1858 .) The U.S. Supreme Court link is off-topic as well.

The two quotes in the opening paragraph are unattributed, even after you go to the link as directed -- unless you count SafeLibraries quoting itself by use of the word "propaganda." I don't know if they're in any of the articles cited. I'm not reading them to find out.

Finally, the use of volatile language ("propaganda" and "hysteria") is incendiary, until a visit to SafeLibraries puts it in perspective. SafeLibraries calls a broken link on the ALA Web site a "disaster."

SafeLibraries.org said...

Those broken links are a disaster. But not in a bad way. I'm not saying something bad. Rather, I am encouraging the ALA to fix the problem. Heck, even ALA members can no longer access the info on the ALA site. That's a disaster. But it should be fixed soon, I hope.

As to the quote, I think you just missed it. And she is not anti-BBW--and that makes her point even stronger. And it makes my use of her quote even better. Think about it.

The US Supreme Court quote is not "off topic." Read it again. Then compare it to "Article V" of the "Library Bill of Rights."