It's Banned Books Week, which means that schools, bookstores, and libraries all across the nation are rallying against censorship and celebrating diversity of thought. Here's what you need to know about this annual tradition:
|Slaughterhouse Five was among the|
books banned by Pico's school district.
Steven Pico, a high school student in the Island Trees school district, decided to take the issue to the courts. With the help of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the Board of Education, Island Trees v. Pico case made it to the Supreme Court in 1982, where the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Pico.
Since 1982, the U.S. and other countries have celebrated Banned Books Week every year in the last week of September. There is a theme each year, with this year's being "Banning Books Silences Stories."
While people of all demographics challenge books for all sorts of reasons, the most common reasons include objections to portrayals of violence, sexual content, and minority viewpoints such as LGBT characters. Here are a few examples:
Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird has been a frequent victim of censorship, with reasons ranging from strong language and its focus on rape, to a recent assertion by a Mississippi middle school that it just "makes people uncomfortable." Narrated by a young girl, To Kill A Mockingbird tells the story of a rape accusation involving a white woman and a black man in the 1930s Deep South. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book remains one of the most commonly banned books in the U.S., despite or perhaps because of its popularity in school curriculums.
John Green's Looking for Alaska is a coming-of-age story about a high school boy's experiences with friends and romance at a small boarding school. Upon experiencing a surge of popularity several years after its publication, the book was banned or challenged in many schools and libraries for sexual content and explicit language. In earlier editions of the novel, the cover was edited so that the puff of smoke on the cover (which is intended to be cigarette smoke) seemed to come from a candle.
Despite its fairly recent release in February of 2017, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has already been pulled off shelves all around the nation. The book deals with controversial and complex topics regarding race relations in America, and many people have reacted against its message by claiming the book is too vulgar.
Published in 2014, I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings tells the true story of the author's childhood and her early transition in a way that is straightforward to young readers. While many have praised its clear approach to the topic of gender identity, it has also faced backlash and censorship from those who feel that the topic of transgender identity is not "appropriate" for children.
If you'd like to learn more about Banned Books Week and the censorship of books in America, come check out our Banned Books Week display in the Teen Zone!
Written by Coral C., Homework Assistant
BannedBooksWeek.org (American Library Association)
NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship)