Friday, September 23, 2005

Banned Books Week, 9/24-10/1

Banned Books Week 2005 is September 24–October 1.

What is Banned Books Week? The American Library Association writes,
Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and 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." []

Banned Books Week is about understanding censorship. The National Council of Teachers of English writes,
"We can safely make two statements about censorship: first, any work is potentially open to attack by someone, somewhere, sometime, for some reason; second, censorship is often arbitrary and irrational. " []
Did you know that people have tried to prevent the teaching of these books?
These books were all challenged -- school or library boards removed them (or were asked to remove them) from school curriculum and from libraries -- for different reasons. Books are challenged because they are perceived to be racist, violent, sexually explicit, and many other reasons. My favorite (found at The Forbidden Library) is that The Lorax was challenged for displaying hostility toward the logging industry!

Banned Books Week celebrates the fact that while the charges against the books may be true -- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer does depict harmful racial stereotypes and attitudes about slavery -- the books still have literary value. They can help us understand our past, and they can be valuable in teaching about issues that still face us today, like race, class, violence, the environment, and censorship.

So, this week, celebrate the freedom to read -- read a banned book!

For more information on Banned Books Week, try the following links:

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