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Banned Books Week September 26-October 2, 2021

Branch Blog

 September 26-October 2, 2021

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Banned Books Weeks draws attention to the harms of censorship.

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of challenged books from across the country each year. Many classics have appeared on the list of banned and challenged books over the years including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald for foul language; The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger for being obscene and anti-white; 1984 by George Orwell for being pro-communist and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien for being satanic. In 2015, 86 books on that year’s list were challenged because of their diverse content including featuring people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities.

 

In 2020, 273 titles were challenged. The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2020 are:

  1. George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
  10. The Hate U Giveby Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.

 

To learn more about Banned Books Week visit https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned

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