Book banning, coming to a library near you?

For Immediate Release
Tue, 09/06/2011

Contact:

Macey Morales

 Libraries close the book on censorship during Banned Books Week,

Sept. 24 – Oct. 1

 

CHICAGO – Is the freedom to read in jeopardy in the United States?  This year alone, individuals in more than 26 states were forced to fight for their right to choose reading materials for themselves and their families, as hundreds of attempts were made to ban books from public and school libraries.

Thousands will speak out against and learn about censorship as the nation celebrates the freedom to read in libraries and bookstores during Banned Books Week, Sept. 24– Oct. 1, 2011.

Each year, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives hundreds of reports on book challenges, which are formal written requests to remove a book from a library or classroom because of an objection to the book's content.  There were 346 recorded attempts to remove materials from libraries in 2010, and more than 11,000 attempts recorded since OIF began compiling information on book challenges in 1990.

"The removal of one book is the equivalent of stripping away the rights of hundreds to choose books for themselves,” said ALA President Molly Raphael.  “As we have seen this year, too often the voices of a few have restricted the rights of many.”

The Republic (Mo.) High School banned Kurt Vonnegut's “Slaughterhouse-Five,” due to a complaint that the book “teaches principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.” The book was banned, and more than 150 students and their families lost access to the American classic.   

In many cases, it is only through public concern and citizen involvement that books are saved from confiscation or from being kept under lock and key.  

Only after national outcry the Republic School Board of Education in Missouri has agreed to reconsider the banning of “Slaughterhouse-Five.

In Norwalk, Conn., Ponus Ridge Middle School Library retained the first book written in entirely in the format of instant messaging, “ttyl,”by Lauren Myracle, after the book was facing removal due to complaints that the book’s text was “grammatically incorrect” and used foul language. After a public outcry and a board review, school officials decided to keep the controversial novel for young adults in the library.

Raphael continued, “Library collections should reflect the diverse viewpoints of our nation. We may not share the same viewpoints, but we cannot live in a free society and develop our own opinions if our right to  access information freely is compromised.”

During Banned Books Week thousands from around the world and best-selling authors will participate in a virtual Read Out on YouTube via a dedicated channel at http://www.youtube.com/bannedbooksweek .

Also many bookstores and libraries celebrating Banned Books Week will showcase selections from the ALA OIF’s "Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010." The list is released each spring and serves as a comprehensive snapshot of book removal attempts in the U.S. The "Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010" reflects a range of themes and consists of the following titles:

  1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. “Crank,” by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. “Lush,” by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. “What My Mother Doesn't Know,” by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. “Nickel and Dimed,” by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. “Twilight,” by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

For more information on Banned Books Week, book challenges and censorship, please visit the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books website at www.ala.org/bbooks, or www.bannedbooksweek.org.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of College Stores and is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

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