by Katlyn Stokarski
It’s Banned Books Week, folks! Well, maybe not quite as “banned” as you might think.
The books are actually the “most challenged” titles based on input from libraries and schools all around the country. Every year, they are at the forefront of fielding complaints from patrons and parents who lobby to remove certain books from the shelves, often in an effort to keep “unsuitable material” away from children. The Office for Intellectual Freedom then “compile[s] lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools.”
So there you have it. The books that make the lists are not so much banned from being sold in your neighborhood bookstore, but their existence and accessibility in the public domain (the local library) is threatened.
I can understand how parents feel the need to protect their children from books containing material that contradicts their values; let them be free to censor their children. What I do not understand is how these parents could assume that it is within their right to deprive everyone of access. Each person has the right to form his or her own opinion, but they first need to get their hands on a copy of the book to do it.
Banned Books Week provides a great opportunity to appreciate our First Amendment rights and examine relevant issues concerning censorship, as well as the everyday challenges our librarians face in protecting our right to read.
And in today's list-loving world, The American Library Association’s page highlighting on Banned Books Week showcases some great ones, such as Top 100 Challenged Books of the Decade, Challenged Classics, etc. Explore their site; you’ll definitely see a few “why haven’t I read that yet?” books, and you’ll be interested to see what books ignited controversy back in the day. Here’s their site: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek
I am no exception to loving lists. Here are a few of my own childhood favorites that made the cut in years past:
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George
And a few that I added to my reading list:
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
And what about you, readers? Were there any books that surprised you? Do you think controversial books should be removed from libraries?