Celebrate Banned Books Week

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of your freedom to read at the University Library during Banned Books Week, Sept. 30 – Oct. 6, 2012. Banned Books Week is an annual event promoted by the American Library Association that serves to celebrate the freedom to read. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws attention to the harms of censorship.

Students are often surprised at some of the frequently challenged books, including classics such as The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Catcher in the Rye,” by JD Salinger, and “The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck, to name a few. More recent books that have been challenged include “Captain Underpants,” the Harry Potter book series, and back in 1987, the Anchorage School Board banned the American Heritage Dictionary for having slang definitions for words such as “bed,” “knocker,” and “balls.”

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to an increase in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. The American Library Association defines a challenge as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school (primarily k-12 and public libraries) requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. Sex, profanity, and racism are still the primary categories of objections.

The most ten challenged titles of 2011 included “ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series),” by Lauren Myracle, “The color of Earth (series),” by Kim Dong Hwa, “The Hunger Games trilogy,” by Suzanne Collins, “My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, “ by Dori Hillestad Butler, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie, “Alice (series),” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley, “What My Mother Doesn’t Know,” by Sonya Sones, “Gossip Girl (series),” by Cecily Von Ziegesar, and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.

Stop by the University Library and check out our Banned Books display in the Lobby, challenged book titles, and literature on the freedom to read. More information is also available from the American Library Association at http:// www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/ bannedbooksweek.

Nerissa Nelson

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