Banned Book Week is coming...

Official dates are September 25th to October 2. But if you want a head start, you can join the discussion about these recent banned/challenged books.



Earlier this month a school board in Missouri voted to ban Sherman Alexie's book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Earlier this week, someone wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader of Springfield, MO, attacking Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Speak. (He also objected to the book Slaughterhouse Five, which has now been removed from the curriculum, and the book Twenty Boy Summer, which is under review.)

You can read Laurie Halse Anderson's response here.

EDIT: After posting this, I also came across this post by Sarah Ockler, author of Twenty Boy Summer. It's worth the read.

Has anyone read these books? Do you think these objections are valid or not?
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PS. I contacted Ms. Anderson recently about the Author Speak Up section of my Read a Banned Book site and she gave me permission to reprint some of her views on censorship there. If you want to read it, you can go here. And while you're there, sign up to read a banned/challenged book!

9 comments:

  1. I have yet to read a compelling reason to ban a book - any book!

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  2. I haven't read any of these, but I think it's good that Banned Book Week does bring attention to them. It puts them right in the spotlight!

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  3. Christine- I'd have to agree with you, for the most part. If I were a parent and my school put Playboy's in the library, I might protest. :)

    Joanne- True. No one likes having their books challenged, but it is usually good attention in the long run.

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  4. Humans want to believe they're perfect, but novels show us how flawed and uncivilized we really are. So people ban books because they're afraid of the truth. Banning books is ridiculous and sad, but kids can get their hands on those books if they really want to! All the banned books list does is create anger and controversy; it doesn't keep the books from being read! Plus, it just brings more attention to the writer and the novel, so that's good!

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  5. How can a school actually 'ban' a book? Choosing not to include it in their curriculum doesn't have to be equivalent to banning it.

    I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in absolutes of right and wrong. People have a right to share their ideas and opinions, but it's treading a fine line between that and claiming that all ideas are of equal value. When you say that you're removing absolutes.

    Then again, allowing anybody the right to ban something sets a precedent - just now they could ban something you disapprove of, but it leaves the door open for future authorities to ban anything they happen to disagree with, not just things with objectionable content.

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  6. Laura- I agree that it does usually call attention to the books. But we have to keep raising a fuss about it because otherwise it will stop being a big deal. And that's a dangerous road to slid down.

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  7. Elizabeth- As you say, it's a dangerous precedent. And it can get dangerous even when we're just talking about schools.

    Schools can do more than take books off the curriculum. They can pull them from the school library. And a lot of challenges come to public libraries as well.

    And that's where the real problem comes in. Many, many people, especially public-school kids do not have the resources to buy books. Many don't have even have a safe way of getting to the public library.

    In that respect, the banning of books restricts access for a whole lot of people. And that's not what books are about. That's not what freedom is about.

    I agree with you that not all ideas have equal value. But for me it's not so much about the value of the ideas themselves. It's about whether or not I have the right to restrict YOUR access to the ideas.

    Does that make sense?

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  8. Hi Miriam,

    I just wanted to thank you for posting about this issue and including the links. The support from readers and bloggers everywhere has been inspiring. :-)

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Ockler
    Author of Twenty Boy Summer

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  9. Sarah- You're very welcome! And thank you for stopping by the blog. :)

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