Thursday, September 21, 2006

Banned Books Week

Next week, September 23-30, 2006, is Banned Books Week. Google has set up a page about banned books here. The main informational Web site seems to be the American Library Association site, though other organizations are also co-sponsors of the event. Librarian.net has a bit of a rant about the lack of coverage on these other sites, and about Banned Books Week in general. One of her points seems to be that it's turning into Buy Banned Books Week (soon to be sponsored by Amazon.com?), and just another marketing opportunity for booksellers. Hmmm...

I'm posting a badge on my sidebar to advertise Banned Books Week. The badge (courtesy of the clever folks at newprotest.org) takes you to the ALA page. (Wisconsin Book Festival organizers, are you listening?) There are lots of ways (other than shopping) to raise awareness about banned books; one way is to read one and talk about it. I'm going to pick one from the Google list that I haven't read before, read it, and write about it here. If you decide to do the same, leave me a comment.

11 comments:

Maxine said...

Hello Becky, I'd independently been sent a piece about Banned Books week by Dave Lull for Librarian's Place, so I posted there and also linked to this post on your blog.
See http://librariansplace.wordpress.com/2006/09/21/banned-books-week/

I'm not sure I could manage to read one from the list in a week at the moment, my reading rate is currentl glacial, but at least I have read a few of them already.

When I was a girl, the library system in the UK banned Enid Blyton. Can you believe that?

jovial_cynic said...

Thanks for posting the banner I made. This thing is spreading faster than I expected!

Small request -- can you link the "newprotest.org" text to this particular post instead? That way, the image and the link are in proper context with one another.

Thanks!

Becky said...

Jovial cynic -- yes, I made the change. That makes more sense, and I should have done it that way originally. I had a little trouble posting the banner because I copied in the code from librarian.net, but when I pasted it into Blogger, it came in with some weird quotation marks which made it not work at first. It took me a little while (and some help) to debug it. Thus I wasn't as thorough as I could have been. For a while the post was up there with no banner visible. Embarrassing.

Becky said...

Maxine, you have revealed my appalling ignorance. I had to look up Enid Blyton on Wikipedia! I also noticed from perusing the banned book lists that J.K.Rowling's books are routinely challenged in the U.S. I never cease to be amazed at people's fears and ignorance. The Librarian.net blogger (I think her name is Jessamyn) makes the point that a lot of children's books are challenged because parents are afraid. And also that Banned Books Week is about tolerance and open-mindedness as much as anything.

phylisrn said...

I have to admit I have followed the masses and 'forbid' Rowlings' books from my home, but I don't know the reasons why?!

Becky said...

phylisrn, I'm not trying to be confrontational here, but it seems like if you are going to forbid something, you ought to know the reason why. As for "following the masses," I think it's "the masses" who are BUYING Rowling's books, judging by her sales.

Maxine said...

J K Rowling's books teach that the right way is to stand by your principles, be honourable, true to yourself and love. The fact that some of the characters are witches or wizards has led the ignorant to ban them.

Sorry, Becky, I hadn't realised that Enid Blyton wouldn't travel but of course you are right, she was very english. When I was a girl she was by far the best-selling author of her day, writing Noddy (and other young children's books) fairy stories, mysteries, adventures and so on. Incredibly prolific and not considered at all "respectable" by schools etc. But all very good healthy stuff. When you see how much everyone worships Jacqueline Wilson, the most-borrowed author in the UK library system, you can see how far things have moved. I like J Wilson, my girls have loved her books, but they are far more "near the knuckle" than the innocent high japes of Blyton. I think people did not like Blyton becuase it was not "literature". Also it may have been racist, I can't remember personally, but a lot of authors writing in those days were racist, eg Dorothy L Sayers was quite anti-semitic.

Anne said...

I teach in a suburb of Portland, OR with many fundamentalist Christians. Some families have told teachers to send their children out of the classroom if anything is read aloud that contains references to magic. Other families are more tolerant of what is read in the classroom, but refuse to have books with magic in their home. One little girl returned a book I had suggested (The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes) saying, "My Mom says that God didn't make witches." Yikes! This makes me uncomfortable in so many ways. It reminds me of the anti-Semitic comments the school secretary made to me because I read my class Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel.

Anne said...

Becky, Having fired off that comment I really should amend it - I realize that not allowing a book into one's home is very different from banning it from a public institution. An elementary school IS an interesting microcosm of a community and rejecting some books out of hand because of magic does chill my heart a little, whether it is on the part of a teacher or a parent.

Venator said...

Becky, I thought it was a good idea to follow your lead and read a banned (challenged) book just to see if we both had the same reaction to it. However, I do not like your list. I have read most of them and the others I am not interested in reading for one reason or another. I suppose I will have to look at another list and go it alone.

Becky said...

Venator, you don't have to go it alone. Let's just pick a good one from some other list, and read it together. Anyone want to join us?

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