Banned Book Week began on Saturday, September 26th. Since 1987, the American Library Association and other Free Speech advocates have celebrated freedom of expression by pointing out notable books that have been "challenged" or banned.
The city of Boston earned notoriety in the early 20th century for banning books - not allowing the books into the city's limits. The idea seems almost medieval but every month someone complains about a book that has been published, or is on a public library's shelves or has been assigned to a class for study.
The reasons for banning a book are myriad. Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic" was banned because it included an illustration that might encourage children to break dishes so they wouldn't have to wash them!
Librarians are rumored to have painted diapers on a naked Mickey in Maurice Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen".
The Harry Potter series was challenged because it talked about magic, spells, wizards, witches, etc. I haven't read that the "Twilight" series has been challenged anywhere, even though it features vampires and werewolves. Oh, wait, Australian middle schools have banned the Twilight books. Hmmm.
The reason for keeping these books on the shelves reflects a basic American value, freedom of expression. Removing a book because one person, or interest group, finds that book objectionable denies the rights of all the people who think the book is well-written, fun or informative.
Check out more resources on Banned Books by looking at the massive amount of info posted on the American Library Association's website.
For a list of the ten most often challenged books or series of 2008, click here.
Read a banned book, today or choose not to. That choice belongs to everyone. Let's keep it that way.