Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Closing Books Shuts Out Ideas

It's banned books week!
“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.” (Intellectual Freedom Manual,ALA, 7th edition.)

Consider what you can do to fight censorship and keep books available in libraries. Here are some idea from the American Library Association (ALA):
1) Stay informed. Do you know which books are on the most frequently challenged list? Find out here:

2) Organize your own Banned Books Read-Out!

3) Get involved in events that discuss freedom to read and issues of censorship.

4) Speak out. Write letters in support of the freedom to read. Post messages on your blog.

5)Exercise your rights! Read a banned book; give one as a gift; join in a discussion group about these books.

From ALA here is a list of the 10 most challenged books for 2007:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain *
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker *
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou *
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Off the list this year, are two books by author Toni Morrison. "The Bluest Eye" * and "Beloved," * both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

I've put asteriks by the ones I've read and I'll add that I found something of value in each of these. In fact, some of them are among my favorite books.

What banned books have you read? Did you feel there was something to be valued in them?

Topic open for discussion.

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