Carol Callicotte


Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read September 24, 2008

Filed under: Censorship,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 3:58 pm
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Freedom of speech – a topic near and dear to my heart. This year we celebrate the 27th anniversary of Banned Books Week, September 27-October 4.

I took this quote from the American Library Association’s website:

“BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.”

For more information on Banned Books Week, check out the American Library Association.

Here’s a list of the ten most frequently challenged books of 2007. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed.

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henke

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
8 ) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky

And here’s a link to the top 10 challenged books 1991-2007.

So what can we do to celebrate this freedom? Stay informed and get involved in your community. Support your public and school libraries. And read a challenged book this week! I’m choosing Bridge to Terabithia, a favorite from my childhood that I’ve wanted to reread for a while.


7 Responses to “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read”

  1. Oh man. I read Bridge to Terabithia about two weeks ago for the first time and I balled like a baby!!! I hardly saw why the book should be banned. It seems to me like they were using more of their imagination than magic. I dunno. Anyways, I am looking forward to BBW!! I’m going to have to find a great banned book (that won’t make me cry) to read in its honor.

    Great post!!


  2. Pink Ink Says:

    Hi! Found you through the cool AW thread :-). I read Maya Angelou’s book in college, and I remember being moved by it. Certainly disturbing material, some parts, but I thought I felt uplifted in the end.

    I really don’t understand why Huck Finn always makes the list :-). Seems innocuous enough, though maybe I ought to look at it again and see what the fuss is about 🙂

  3. ccallicotte Says:

    Thanks for visiting, Pink Ink and Terra! The ALA lists the reasons cited in the challenges to the different books. Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children – certainly a worthy cause. But restriction of freedom of speech or expression is a misguided way to protect. Books should inspire discussion and exploration, not be hidden in case their words might offend or challenge.

    I’ll look forward to balling my eyes out this week with Bridge to Terabithia. Enjoy the books you find!

  4. Rachael Says:

    Interesting topic! I’ve read a lot of those challenged books and have a few of them on my bookshelf, while others I can tell by the title I’d rather not read. Some of the books I have read and enjoyed discussing in college, but I might not be happy to see them on a high school reading list. And some books are OK for high school, but I don’t think are OK for elementary. So I’m not sure if that is censorship, but I do believe in having some age-appropriate standards for school reading assignments. In any case, I think concerned parents can be aware of what their kids are reading, and as far as I know can request alternate book assignments if they disapprove, all without asking for a book to be banned from a library. But maybe books should have a rating system like movies and TV, so that people can make decisions that fit their values & standards, without making books unavailable to people who want to make other choices? Even as an adult, I have had the unpleasant experience of starting a book only to realize it is too trashy for my liking so I had to drop it–and I hate not finishing a book! So that’s my over-protective parent, conservative religious, yet politically liberal perspective. Having said all that, I really want to recommend a book I saw on the almost-banned list: The Giver by Lois Lowry is a really good book!

  5. ccallicotte Says:

    Hi Rach! Thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment. I’ve heard the idea of a rating system for books, like with movies, and I agree that it makes good sense. I’ll have to check out The Giver – thanks for the recommendation.

    Do you still read 4 or 5 books at a time, like you did when we were kids 🙂 ?

  6. Rachael Says:

    Did I used to read like that?! I can’t even remember. That’s funny because Sienna is usually reading 2-4 books at a time. Now I prefer to read one book at a time, when I am reading a book at all. Mostly my books are just piling up on the shelf like yours. And I am reliving the old classics as Sienna is getting into them and reads to me sometimes. Ismael is also reading through my old books, catching up on what he missed from not growing up here.

  7. ccallicotte Says:

    Sienna takes after her mom, that’s for sure!

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