Banned Books Week LIB 617 Research in Young Adult Literature Fall 2009
Celebrate Your Freedom to Read National Banned Books Week September 26 th – October 3 rd 2009 Adapted and Expanded from an Original Presentation created by Kelly Sonnanstine – FGCU Library Services in 2000
What is Banned Books Week?
Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
observed during the last week of Sept. each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.
Banned Books Week Sponsors
American Booksellers Association
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Library Association
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Association of American Publishers
National Association of College Stores
Endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
Based on intellectual freedom
What is Intellectual Freedom?
Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.
Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed.
[is] the control of the information and ideas circulated within a society
The rationales for censorship have varied, with some censors targeting material deemed to be indecent or obscene; heretical or blasphemous; or seditious or treasonous. Thus, ideas have been suppressed under the guise of protecting three basic social institutions: the family, the church, and the state.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791 The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution
What about reading?
Not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution
Does that mean to say that the First Amendment does not apply to reading?
See court cases on The Right to Read Freely on ALA’s Notable First Amendment Court Cases web page
Why Banned Book Week? Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates our freedom to express and explore diverse opinions, even if those opinions are considered by some to be unorthodox or unpopular. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.
More About Why? Although targeted by censors, most of the books featured during BBW were not banned, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in their collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and banned—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.
Banned Books Week Message The message of Banned Books Week is more than a simple celebration of our freedom to explore and express unorthodox or unpopular opinions. Banned Books Week reminds us that it is our responsibility as citizens to ensure the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
“ The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” - Oscar Wilde
Damage of Fear When books are challenged, restricted, removed, or banned, an atmosphere of suppression exists. Authors may make revisions less for artistic reasons than to avoid controversy. Editors and publishers may alter texts or elect not to publish for economic and marketing reasons. Staff in bookstores and libraries, fearing reprisal, may simply choose not to purchase controversial materials, practicing a form of silent censorship.
Damage of Fear The fear of the consequences of censorship is as damaging as, or perhaps more damaging than, the actual censorship attempt. After all, when a published work is banned, it can usually be found elsewhere. Unexpressed ideas, unpublished works, unpurchased books are lost forever.— 2001 Resource Guide
“ The ultimate expression of free speech lies not in the ideas with which we agree, but in those ideas that offend and irritate us.” - Chuck Stone
Why Are Books Challenged?
Books are usually challenged by people with good intentions—to protect others, usually children, from difficult ideas and truths. Censorship can be subtle, almost invisible, or it can be blatant, but regardless of the way in which it is presented, it is always harmful.
Why Are Books Challenged? Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors , an interpretation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights reminds us that “Parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.”
“ Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” - Lyndon B. Johnson
Who Challenges Books? Throughout history, more and different kinds of people than you might first suppose, and groups of all persuasions, have for all sorts of reasons, attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress literature and other forms of expression that conflict with their own beliefs.
Who Challenges Books? In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other , Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times , as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”
“ Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice.” - Holbrook Jackson
Challenge vs. Banning A banning is the actual removal of those materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.
Challenge vs. Banning Challenges go beyond the exercise of free speech. They are an attempt to remove materials from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the rights of others. The positive message of Banned Books Week is that, due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
Challenge List Tabulation The American Library Association (ALA) collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals. This information is compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom ; those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide.
“ The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” - Hubert H. Humphrey
10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000 10. The Giver, by Lois Lowry , for being sexually explicit, occult themes and violence. 9. The Terrorist, by Caroline Cooney , for violence, being unsuited to age group and occult themes. 8. Scary Stories series, by Alvin Schwartz , for violence, being unsuited to age group and occult themes. 7. Fallen Angels , by Walter Dean Myers , for offensive language, racism, violence and being unsuited to age group. 6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , by Maya Angelou , for being too explicit in the book’s portrayal of rape and other sexual abuse.
10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000 5. Of Mice and Men , by John Steinbeck, for offensive language, racism, violence and being unsuited to age group. 4. Killing Mr. Griffin , by Lois Duncan, for violence and sexual content 3. Alice series , by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for sexual content and being unsuited to age group. 2. The Chocolate War , by Robert Cormier (the “Most Challenged” fiction book of 1998), for violence, offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
The Most Frequently Challenged Book of 2000
Harry Potter series , by J.K. Rowling, (the “Most Challenged” fiction book of 1998), for occult/Satanism and anti-family themes.
NOTE: According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, Harry Potter first entered the list last year , rising to the top after only three months. The number of challenges to Harry Potter reported in 2000 is triple that of 1999.
Most challenged book of 2006?
And Tango Makes Three tops ALA’s 2006 list of most challenged books
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s award-winning And Tango Makes Three , about two male penguins parenting an egg from a mixed-sex penguin couple, tops the list of most challenged books in 2006 by parents and administrators, due to the issues of homosexuality.
Gay penguins have a place in school libraries? Nov 17, 2006
Most Challenged Books in 2007?
“ And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
“ Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language
“ The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
“ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain Reasons: Racism
Source: Frequently Challenged Books (ALA)
“ Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
The most frequently challenged authors of 2007
Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 420 challenges last year . A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported. [From Frequently Challenged Books ]
Another ALA Resource
“ Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime…” - Justice Potter Stewart
An opposing viewpoint
“ You might be shocked at the sensitive, controversial and inappropriate material that can be found in books in K-12 schools. Both in the classroom and library. Parents should be aware of what their children can or must read in school to decide whether it is appropriate for them or not.”
Landmark court cases
Rosenberg v. Board of Education of City of New York, 92 N.Y.S.2d 344 (Sup. Ct. Kings County 1949)
Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 102 S.Ct. 2799, 73 L.Ed.2d 435 (1982)
Case v. Unified School District No. 233, 908 F. Supp. 864 (D. Kan. 1995)
See Notable First Amendment Court Cases
Some people consider The following books dangerous! WARNING!
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. Challenged in many libraries but removed from Gilbert, AZ elementary school libraries (1980), and ordered that parental consent be required to check out this title from the junior high school libraries. Was said to be profane, immoral, and offensive. By Judy Blume
The Clan of the Cave Bear Challenged at the Berrien Springs, MI High School for use in classrooms and libraries (1998) because the novel is “vulgar, profane, and sexually explicit.” Banned from Cascade Middle school Library in Eugene, OR (1992) because a parent complained about a rape scene. By Jean M. Auel
To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee Challenged in many communities for language and racial themes. Temporarily banned in Eden Valley, MN (1977) due to the words “damn” and “whore lady” used in the novel. Banned from the Lincoln, TX AP reading list (1996) because the book “conflicted with the values of the community.”
Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut Banned in Rochester, MI, because the novel “contains and makes references to religious matters” and thus fell within the ban of establishment clause. Challenged in many communities but burned (yes, burned) in Drake, ND (1973) for being “vulgar and offensive.”
Where the Sidewalk Ends By Shel Silverstein
Challenged in Xenia, OH school libraries (1983) because the book is “anti-Christian, against parental and school authorities, emphasized the use of drugs and sexual activity.”
Removed from the shelves of Minot, ND public school libraries (1986) by the assistant superintendent “in anticipation of a parent’s complaint.” Upon the recommendation of a review committee the book was returned to the shelves.
Song of Solomon By Toni Morrison Removed from the required reading lists and library shelves in Richmond County, GA School District (1994) after a parent complained the passages from the book were “filthy and inappropriate.” Challenged, but retained, in the Columbus, OH schools (1993). The complainant believed that the book contains language degrading to blacks, and is sexually explicit.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain Excluded from the children’s room in the Brooklyn Public Library (1876) and the Denver Public Library (1876). Removed from school libraries in London, England, by education officials (1985) who found it “racist” and “sexist.” Confiscated at the U.S.S.R. border (1930).
Blubber By Judy Blume Challenged in the Perry Township, OH elementary school libraries (1991) because in the book, “bad is never punished. Good never comes to the fore. Evil is Triumphant.” Banned at the Clements High School in Athens, AL (1998) because of objections to two instances of the word “damn” and one instance of the word “bitch” in the novel.
Flowers for Algernon By Daniel Keyes Banned in Plant City, FL (1976) and Emporium, PA (1977) because of references to sex. Challenged, but retained, in the Yorktown, VA Schools (1996) because a parent complained about profanity and references to sex and drinking in the novel. Removed from the ninth grade curriculum by the Rayburn, GA County Board of Education (1997) because it was “inappropriate” for the ninth grade.
The Color Purple Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as inappropriate for tenth graders because it is “smut.” By Alice Walker Retained as an English Course reading assignment in the Junction City, OR High School (1995) after a challenge to Walker’s Pulitzer Prize- winning novel caused months of controversy.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn By Mark Twain Banned in Concord, MA (1885) as “trash and suitable only for the slums.” Dropped from the New York City (1905) list of approved books for senior and junior high schools, partly because of the frequent use of the term “nigger.” The Pennsylvania NAACP called for the removal of the book from required reading lists (1998) across the state because of racial language.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee (1983) called for its rejection because Angelou’s work preaches “bitterness and hatred against whites.” Banned from the Dolores Parrott Middle School in Brooksville, FL school library and classrooms (1998) because of a passage in which Angelou tells of being molested and raped as a child.
Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck Banned from classroom use at the Scottsboro, AL (1983) due to profanity . Removed and later returned to the Suwannee, FL High School Library (1991) because the book is “indecent.” Removed, restored, restricted, and eventually retained in the Bay County schools in Panama City, FL. (1997)
Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger Since its publication, this title has been a favorite target of censors. Banned from classrooms at the Boron, CA High School (1989) because the book contains profanity.
Removed from the required reading curriculum of Marysville, CA Joint Unified School District (1997) because of profanity and sexual situations .
Where’s Waldo? By Martin Handford Challenged at the Public Libraries of Saginaw, MI (1998) because “on some of the pages there are dirty things.” Removed from the Springs Public Library in East Hampton, NY (1993) because there is a tiny drawing of a woman lying on the beach wearing a bikini bottom but no top.
100 Years of Solitude By Gabriel Garcia-Marquez Purged from the book list for the use at the Wasco, CA Union High School (1986) because the book, whose author won the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, was “garbage being passed off as literature.” Removed from the AP English reading list at St. Johns High School in Darlington, SC (1990) because of profane language.
Learn More Here Preserving Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools By Jean E. Brown Banned in the USA: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries By Herbert N. Foerstel Intellectual Freedom Manual Compiled By Office for Intellectual Freedom, ALA. Censored: The News that Didn’t Make the News By Carl Jensen