One of the things I love most about Banned Books Week is it gives us an opportunity to think about — and hopefully to read — a banned book. It’s a wonderful chance to make lemonade. After all, a lot of thought and energy goes in to having books removed from libraries and schools. I can’t think of a better way to reward those efforts than by giving the books that have been banned extra attention and making sure they’re read and even purchased.
As the map (below right) shows, censorship isn’t a regional issue. It can rear its ugly head wherever there are books… and quite often when there are children who apparently need to be protected from nasty literature. (Books kill!)
So who is doing the complaining and just what are they complaining about? The ALA web site offers up some background. From 2001 to 2010 American libraries were faced with 4,660 challenges:
1,536 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
1,231 challenges due to “offensive language”;
977 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
553 challenges due to “violence”
370 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and
Further, 121 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 304 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”
1,720 of these challenges (approximately 37%) were in classrooms; 30% (or1,432) were in school libraries; 24% (or 1,119) took place in public libraries. There were 32 challenges to college classes; and 106 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and student groups. The majority of challenges were initiated by parents (almost exactly 48%), while patrons and administrators followed behind (10% each).
And just in case you want to take things a step further, Word & Film offers up The 5 Best Banned Books Turned Films. Wonderful! Fighting censorship with all our senses!
Want to get excited about books banned in Canada? You’ve got a bit of time. Canada’s Freedom to Read week takes place February 26 to March 3, 2012. Start planning your events now.