Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week. no. seriously. You didn't know???!

Sitting up here in the whole-heartedly non-confrontational realms of Canada, I often forget the silliness going on around in the greater world.  I am free to spout my unkind views about Toronto's mayoral candidates and not worry about my safety, walk around in whatever silly outfit I deem appropriate for the day and not even worry about being mocked (trust me, this city is ridiculous, I'd just blend in better!), and even while growing up in Saskatchewan had the freedom to not only read whatever I wanted (fully available at the public library!) but was taught many of the books that are on the American Banned Books list.

I'm sure you've already run into one of the many, many posts this week about Banned Books, as it is the annual Banned Books week put on by the ALA, but in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the American Library Associations blurb on it:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—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.
After flipping through the ALA's lists of banned classics, and then the yearly top tens I realized I've read A LOT of banned books over the years.  And although I may not have loved the whole trilogy of the Golden Compass, I'm astounded to think anyone could grow up without Judy Blume (who has no less than 4 books on the 2000-2009 list), JK Rowling or the chance to read Goosebumps if they felt like it.  
So next time you pick up the Twilight series, Harry Potter, Of Mice and Men or 1984 (not to mention many others) be thankful you live somewhere you're free to read it, even if in the end you don't really like it!
Check out their lists of frequently banned books to see what books you loved were banned now or in the past, and let me know which ones were your favorites!


  1. Wouldn't it be nice to have one of my books banned ... everyone would want to read it!

  2. ohhh, what have you written Rosanne?