How many of the following books are some of your or your students’ favorites? How many are required reading in the classroom? Can you guess what they share in common?
James and the Giant Peach, Where the Wild Things Are, Harriet the Spy, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Farewell to Arms, Brave New World, Harris and Me, Twelfth Night, The Call of the Wild, Harry Potter (series), The Color Purple, The Grapes of Wrath, Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, Captain Underpants (series), The Jungle, Beloved, The Lord of the Rings, The Outsiders, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Hunger Games (series), The Great Gatsby, Twilight (series), and Where’s Waldo?
Hint: September 24-30 is Banned Books Week. As a librarian, you probably didn’t need that hint to guess that the one thing these books all share in common is that all have been challenged or banned—and they represent just a tiny fraction of the number of challenged or banned books.
The American Library Association, the organization behind the advent of Banned Books Week, explains the purpose of the event as “… an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” (ALA’s OIF also publishes an annual list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books, which you can view here).
So here’s what we’d like to ask you:
- What do you do in your library to celebrate Banned Books Week?
- How do you develop and communicate guidelines for what resources belong (or don’t belong) in your library?
- What are some of your favorite books that have been banned?
Resources for SLC subscribers:
Helen R. Adams workshop on Intellectual Freedom
There are several articles on dealing with challenges including:
“Another Opinion: Common Sense in the Middle School Library” by Darcy Lohmiller
“Challenging Opportunities: Dealing with Book Challenges” by Sabrina Carnesi
“The Choices that Count” by Christine Eldred
“Intellectual Freedom 101: Core Principles for School Librarians” by Helen R. Adams
“Managing Challenges to Library Resources” by Dee Ann Venuto
“The Problem of Self-Censorship” by Rebecca Hill
And don’t miss “Ex Post Facto Self-Censorship: When School Librarians Choose to Censor” by April Dawkins in the upcoming October issue.
Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library by Helen R. Adams