Banned Books Week is 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 of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Yes, it's the 21st century and still we have book burners and censorship. I think that the point here is that parents should be involved in what their children read and help them understand what they are reading, guide them in choosing appropriate material for their curious minds. BUT, let's not infringe on the reading rights of another child, whose parent may not wish to ban a certain book. Most banning and censorship takes place in the most accessible (and free) place to check out a book - a library! Let's not make reading a privilege. What do YOU think?!
This year the theme of Banned Books Week is Young Adult (YA) fiction… Here are the top 10 banned or challenged YA books for 2014-2015:
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
3. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
6. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
7. Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
9. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
10.Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
It seems that Banned Books Week has been taking on a theme, instead of just promoting the reading of all banned books. Last year was comic books, and I read The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (read my review), which I loved. In 2013, I read a classic, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, incredible writing and totally not what I was expecting. And I spent a week with Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in 2009.
This whole week we'll celebrate Banned Books Week highlighting challenged and banned books. And I'll be reading...
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which was banned in a Riverside, Ca. middle school in 2014 because one parent felt, "the morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content was inappropriate for her children... "HER" children. That book was a reading sensation and really promoted kids picking up a book. It may have been inappropriate for her children, and I applaud her for being involved in what her children read, but don't take the ability to read that book away from others. And so, this week, I will finally read The Fault in Our Stars, which has been lingering on my Kindle for some time.
The second book I'm going to read is not YA, but a children's book, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. It's a true story about 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo in NYC who enjoyed doing everything together, and when the time came they built a nest just like all the other Penguin couples, but they couldn't lay an egg. Eventually they are given an abandoned egg and raise this as their own. This book is one of the top banned books of all time, and it really makes me scratch my head. Can reading this book really change your child's sexuality? I view this book as a cute book about the love between the two penguins, and I'm not really viewing this as a book about homosexuality. Am I wrong?! I guess it could teach children about tolerance. My library does carry the book, but I could not find it in any of my bookstores.
This whole week we'll celebrate Banned Books Week highlighting challenged and banned books. What will YOU be reading?!
Weekly Recap… This past week I finished Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, and all I can say is WOW! What an amazing beautiful book. I did not want this book to end and my heart sank as I turned that last page. The writing brought me right into the heart of Africa, and the people became real and part of my life the 2 weeks I stretched out this novel. I'll be posting my review this week. But all I can say is READ THIS BOOK! The writing reminded me of Laura Hillenbrand's Sea Biscuit with the movie Out of Africa as the backdrop. If this were a movie, it would be a sweeping big screen epic.
My reading group read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and everyone loved it! It was so different than what I had expected and the author did a wonderful job of merging 2 stories from 2 different time periods together. Look for my review this week on Orphan Train too!
That about does it for this week. Are you planning on reading any banned or challenged books this week? How do you feel about censorship? Follow the link to The Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books Lists of the 21st Century to see the many other books that have offended someone somewhere.
Happy Reading… Suzanne
*Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association