11 Sep 2010


I can remember there being some blog talk about Banned Book Week (BBW) last year but, to be honest, had not thought about it since until I saw this comment left by Heather (BURIED IN BOOKS) on Pen and Paper:-

"We are celebrating Banned Book Weeks over here in the States- celebrating our right to freedom of speech and freedom of the books that didn't get banned, such as Harry Potter series objection-witchcraft, Twilight Series-religion, sex, many of Roald Dahl's books etc.
"Just wondering since we're talking PC, do you have a lot of do gooders trying to ban books and do your libraries have a celebration for winning out over the objectors?"

Hmm! Interesting.

Firstly, for those of you unaware of what BBW is all about, it's

 "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."

So what sort of books are on the list? Well, according to the Guardian newspaper the top10 banned books 2010 include:-

+ At number 01 - And Tango Makes Three - Justin Richardson (Anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group)
+ At number 02 - His Dark Materials trilogy - Philip Pullman (Political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
+At number 09 - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
+At number 10 - Flashcards Of My Life - Charise Merigle Harper (Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
Click HERE for full article)

Which brings me to ALISON CAN READ, who along with HEATHER, is currently taking part in a Banned Books Challenge and has recently reviewed The Giver by Lois Lowry (click HERE for her review.)

Oh and while I'm on the subject, why not go visit BANNED BOOKS in which various bloggers including Sheila (Book Journey) who takes a look at TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD (what you didn't know this was on the list) - get to review banned books.

But not only about the banning of books, during BBW, AMNESTY INTERNATIONALdirects attention to the plight of individuals who are persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read - PEOPLE LIKE ........(click on link to view.)

Not aware of any such week here in England, I thought I had better do some research.

According to that font of all knowledge Wikipedia:-

"Almost every country places some restrictions on what may be published, although the emphasis and the degree of control differ from country to country and at different periods." 

Unable to find any list(s), I put my thinking cap on and remembered, that whilst they had not actually been banned, there were several books that had caused a certain amount of controversy here in England in recent years - books such as Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and, indeed, as mentioned above,  And Tango Makes Three which has been banned by some (mostly catholic) schools. And then of course, going back through history, we had the Bible, many versions of which were prohibited/destroyed at one time or another largely depending on whether there was a Catholic or Protestant Monarch on the throne at that time.

But do you know what I found even more hateful, even more disturbing, than BBW? A church in America was actually organising a Burn A Koran Day which was thankfully (and rightfully) cancelled at the last minute.Is it just me or does this have awful parallels with the burning of certain religious texts during the Second World War?

*This year BBW takes place between the 25th of September and the 2nd of October.

So what are your opinions, do you believe books should be censored? Have you read any books that have been banned and if so do you agree/disagree with the ban?


Arti said...

I have not read any banned books till now but have managed to get my hands on some controversial books...most recent being The Lost Symbol..I enjoyed reading it and didnt quite undertand what the whole fuss was all about?
It is a work of fiction and I think, it should be seen it in that way...

Boonie S said...

Free speech = Freedom to promote hatred
Censorship is an obscenity to.
There is no simple answer to this.

Have a nice day from Puzzled Boonie

SafeLibraries said...

If you want to read a banned book, read the last book banned in the USA, namely, Fanny Hill, last banned in 1963.

No books have been banned in the USA for about a half a century. See "National Hogwash Week."

Thomas Sowell says Banned Books Week is “the kind of shameless propaganda that has become commonplace in false charges of ‘censorship’ or ‘book banning’ has apparently now been institutionalized with a week of its own.” He calls it “National Hogwash Week.”

Former ALA Councilor Jessamyn West 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." See "Banned Books Week is Next Week."

And then there's Judith Krug herself who created BBW:

"Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week," by Judith Krug, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006. "On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn't fit your material selection policy, get it out of there."

Lastly, remember the ALA does not oppose book burning when doing so would interfere with its political interests. Go see what Judith Krug said about Cuban librarians: "American Library Association Shamed," by Nat Hentoff.

SafeLibraries said...


SG said...

Nice post. Loved it. I don't think USA has banned any book in a long time.

Suko said...

Terrific post, Petty! Freedom of speech is very important,and I celebrate my freedom by reading banned books! Banned books are often classics, or become classics, precisely because they are brave, necessary, and relevant.

Dorte H said...

In Denmark we have often had controversy about provocative novels, but even though there are several books I would never go near myself, I believe it is best for democracy that people are allowed to write about and discuss all subjects. If citizens are allowed to express their opinions and their protest, fewer of them will be pushed in the arms of extremists, I believe.

Children´s books is quite another matter, though. Teachers, librarians and parents should try to make sure children do not read about subjects they are not ready for.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I don't think books should be censored at all. If you don't want to read them, don't read them. If you don't want kids to read them, then don't put them in school libraries.

Its that simple. We have To Kill a Mockingbird and I've been meaning to read it-its a classic! How could it be banned?? That's like banning Dracula (ooo, scary, vampires) or Pride and Prejudice (*gasp!* romance).

Kelly said...

I've never agreed with the idea of banning books.

You have to realize, too, that the church you're referring to about the Koran burning has a total membership of something like 50. The media grabbed onto the story and gave that "pastor" the 15 minutes (or more) of fame that he evidently craved.

I think Boonie stated it well in his comment.

GMR said...

Ah, yes...banned books week. Taking a nontraditional route myself due to reading time constrants this year...but definitely checking out these sites and the others participating. Thanks for the reminder!

Karen said...

I live less than an hour away from that "church" that was going to ban the Koran.
I was stunned. Gainesville is a really open, liberal town so I hope people don't get the idea that he represents the mojority in that area. His church only has about 30 members anyway. I think he would have been best ignored. Now he got all the attention he wanted and all the wacky people are driving up here to support him.
I will check out some of the banned books - thanks for the informative post!


And his reason for wanting to burn the Koran was so he could get an audience with someone about the building of the Mosque so near the site of the Twin Towers. I believe it's right down the street in view of the memorial. He's obviously not important enough to get that audience on his own without the stunt he tried to pull and the burning didn't take place.

Heather in Sandwich