Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week in Summit
Here’s a list of the 10 most challenged book titles of 2013 and the reasons they were challenged.
1. “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence)
2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence)
3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie (drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James (nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins (religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group)
6. “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone (drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit)
7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
8. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group)
9. “Bless Me Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya (occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit)
10. “Bone” (series), by Jeff Smith (political viewpoint, racism, violence)
Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship each year during Banned Books Week, Sunday, Sept. 21, through Saturday, Sept. 27.
Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from a curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
Joyce Dierauer, Summit County Library director, said there are no events planned locally for this year’s Banned Books Week, but the library still wants to get the word out about the nationwide event and can field any questions people might have about banned books.
“It’s a fascinating topic, and we thought that people ought to know about it,” Dierauer said.
Since 1988, when Dierauer became director of the Summit libraries, she said there were only two instances she could remember in which books were challenged in Summit. The first challenge came from a mother who mistakenly picked up a book-on-tape copy of Anne Rice’s erotic novel “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty,” thinking it was a children’s story.
“We had the tapes in bags on a spinner; the adult ones were at the top, and the kids’ ones were at the bottom,” Dierauer said. “She pulled it out because it said ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ … She was shocked to no end because she thought it was a kids’ tape. She asked that it be re-cataloged so no one would mistake it for a kids’ tape. I listened to it and was a little overwhelmed, but because Anne Rice was so popular at that time, we agreed to keep the tape but put ‘explicit material’ in bright letters on it.”
The other challenged book was one written to teach children about sexuality. Dierauer said she reviewed it, found it to be age appropriate and tastefully done and told the father who challenged it that the book would not be reclassified.
“If he didn’t want his daughter looking at something, he should be with her and make sure she didn’t look at that material,” Dierauer said. “They’re welcome to their own opinion, but they can’t deprive other children of access to that book.”
Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported. According to the ALA, a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.
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