Friday, May 8, 2009

Banned (& Challenged) Books

I am mucho annoyed. Only annoyed? you say. Well, perhaps it is more than that. A few different things I came across as I traversed the world wide web have sparked me to add my own voice to the others on a certain subject: banned and challenged books.
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
— On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
Each year the ALA (American Library Association) sponsors Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. This year it's September 26th-October 3rd (2009).
Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.
Want to know which books are banned/challenged? The list might surprise you ("Freaky Friday" is on there?! WT*?). I have posted it here.

The most frequently challenged authors of 2008
1. Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
2. Philip Pullman
3. Lauren Myracle <--Gemini: Amazing author! Probably placed here because of her books "TTYL," "TTFN," and "L8R, G8R"
4. Jim Pipe
5. Alvin Schwartz
6. Chris Crutcher
7. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
8. Rudolfo Anaya
9. Stephen Chbosky
10. Cecily Von Ziegesar <--Gemini: Another awesome author. Placed here because of her Gossip Girl series?

Top Ten Challenged Authors 1990-2004
1. Alvin Schwartz
2. Judy Blume <--Gemini: Yet another great author. She's probably on here because of "Forever" and maybe "Then Again, Maybe I Won't" as well as a few others.
3. Robert Cormier
4. J.K. Rowling <--Gemini: Obviously on here because of her Harry Potter books (there's nothing wrong with them!)
5. Michael Willhoite
6. Katherine Paterson
7. Stephen King <--Gemini: Three guesses why he's on here.
8. Maya Angelou <--Gemini: Author of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"
9. R.L. Stine <--Gemini: I personally don't like very many of his books but that's just cuz I don't prefer the horror genre. There was one about vampires I really liked though. Fear Street or something. My sister, on the other hand, adores his books. But then again, horror is one of her favorite genres.
10. John Steinbeck <--Gemini: Authored "Of Mice and Men"

Out of 8,332 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, as compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom does not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges. Research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five which go unreported.

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