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Monday, September 27, 2010

Banning Books: An embargo on brain power

“WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms” ~ Opening sentence of Banned Books Week Proclamation ~

It’s that time of year again, Banned Books Week, September 25 to October 2, 2010, when we salute the American Library Association and our First Amendment rights that celebrate the freedom to read whatever we choose.

Since 1982, this annual event has promoted public awareness for precious intellectual freedom.

Over the years, some of the greatest classics in literature have been challenged or banned by special interest groups and individuals, for being deemed “offensive,” “unsuited,” or “too explicit.”

Thank goodness, libraries, librarians, teachers and booksellers uphold our right to choose, and challenge those who (because of special interests) would seek to have books removed from libraries, classrooms or booksellers.

This past year, Stephanie H. Meyer’s “Twilight” series was challenged along with the classic, "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," and even the "Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary" received flack along with many other surprising titles.

Robert P. Doyle, executive director of the Illinois Library Association and noted authority on the First Amendment has conveniently kept track with his “Books that Were Challenged or Banned 2009-2010,” which can be viewed by clicking on the link.

You may or may not agree with the selection of books, or the reasons for challenging or banning, and even the outcomes, but if you embrace this year’s Banned Books Week motto, “Think for yourself and let others do the same," IMHO you’ll get the point.

The humorous video below, from 2009, drives it home even more effectively. HAPPY READING!


BarryGillogly said...

This is great, I never knew about Banned Books Week. I will send this to our local library.

Paula Slade said...

Barry - Thank you! Much appreciated.

arlee bird said...

I don't believe in banning books, but some books should be restricted to minors. I would encourage diverting young people to steer them more in the direction of quality reading. I'm all for the required and recommended reading lists like I used to get when I was young. Parents should be made very aware of the types of books that are being read and let them decide how they feel about their children reading them. Once the kids are in high school then they should have more say in what they want to read, but they should learn discernment and understand why they want to read something. Let's face it, a lot of kids, like a lot of adults, just want to indulge in trash.

Tossing It Out

Paula Slade said...

arlee bird - I agree on certain restrictions to minors, but I also believe that when minors become adults the books that were restricted be available to them.

arlee bird said...

I agree that no books should be banned for adult reading. My hope would be that when people reach adulthood that their desire is to read good quality reading material, but they should have every right to decide for themselves. Banning books like "Huckleberry Finn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" makes no sense.

Tossing It Out

TallTchr said...

Huck Finn has long been under fire for using the word "nigger"--nevermind Twain's intention, post slavery, of demonstrating the equality of the races. Anne Frank gets it from three directions. First, it was because of her statement that everyone should believe in God, but it was not necessary to be "orthodox." This aroused fundamentalist Christians as well as some Jews. When the unexpurgated edition came out, restoring parts cut by her father, we find her careful description of her vagina. Nowadays, holocaust deniers want to ban the book as a forgery. I share Phillip Roth's estimation of her diary, which we know she assiduously edited and rewrote: the greatest book every written by a child.

Paula Slade said...

Lee - We are (pardon the pun)on the same page here. :)

Tall Tchr - Thank you for your additional insights on Huck Finn and Anne Frank. I remember, as a young teen, the first time I read Frank's diary, it opened my adolescent eyes to the importance of fully embracing each day, and being grateful for all that we have. It was, without question, the most influential book in my younger years.