Have you seen Ms. Rachel’s Banned Book Week display in the alcove of the Teen Zone? We hope you not only like what you see, but that one or two of these challenged titles will intrigue you into checking them out. It’s a great time to exercise your right to choose and celebrate your freedom to read!
Sadly, it’s a freedom that still needs defending. In the last year alone, 464 challenges from across the country were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Libraries in schools and colleges, classrooms and communities had books deemed inappropriate in a quest to remove them from shelves.
And what books are these that someone, somewhere thought too dangerous to read? According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, here are the top 10 most frequently challenged books for 2012:
1. The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
5. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
8. The Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
9. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Most of these books were cited as being “unsuited for age group” in addition to a host of other complaints ranging from offensive language to being sexually explicit. (Check here for a list of individual reasons.) Yet among this list is a 1988 Pulitzer Prize winner, a 2006 Printz Award winner, and a 2007 National Book Award winner as well as books that have spent months on national bestseller lists. Alas, popularity and literary merit do not protect a book from censure.
So, as this year’s Banned Book slogan says, “discover what you’re missing” and pick up a book, any book! The young adult author Harry Mazer said it best:
“ Books belong to all who read. Readers need and want well-written, interesting books. And since what interests me may not interest you, we need more books. More authors. More varied points of view. Books are our windows on the world. They permit us to safely experience other lives and ways of thinking and feeling. Books give us a glimmer of the complexity and wonder of life. All this, the censor would deny us.”
P.S. Ms. Kristine, who facilitates the Whitney Library’s book group, has selected Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for their October meeting. If you have read or are reading this challenged book, please consider joining the group for what will undoubtedly be a spirited discussion on October 8th, 6:30 p.m. Check our Facebook page in October for more information, or call our Reader Services Dept. at 702-507-4010. And if you’re really a Sherman Alexie fan, you won’t want to miss the Movie Club’s screening of Smoke Signals, based on Alexie’s book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. The film will play on Sunday, October 13th at 2:00 p.m., with discussion immediately following in the conference room. Take part in the discussion and be eligible to win free movie tickets!