Saturday, October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week in the U.S.

It's the end of Banned Books Week here in the U.S. and I made the intention to participate in the recognition of this cultural phenomenon of ours. I think it's more curious than dangerous why some books make the list. It always sparks great interest in the book, so I think most authors would rather treasure being banned and join the ranks of notables which includes some (but not all?) of the Harry Potter books, The Adventures of Hucklberry Finn, the American Heritage Dictionary, Judy Blume books, Willie Wonka, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. The reasons that many books get blacklisted are almost uncomprehensible. Little Women? Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic? I think most indicate the narrowmindedness of people afraid to look at reality. Others showcase the lack of a healthy appreciation of the absurd.

Have you read any banned books? You probably have without even knowing it. Here's a few of my favorites: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the ultimate book on censorship, Farenheit 451.

One of our local libraries showcased Banned Book Week and I would like to pay a tribute to my favorite intrepid librarian, Kathleen Stewart, Programs Director at the Yuba County Library, who showcased banned books by prominently displaying library copies, labling each with the reason the book was banned. I checked out The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, a YA book about troubled teens. The reason it was banned from some schools was because "virtually all of the characters are from broken homes." Another case of  the fear of looking at reality.

I know some of you are from other parts of the world. Do you have these kinds of issues with banning books and censorship where you live? I'd love to hear from you.

For more on this subject, see The eleven most surpring banned books, a literary agent's list, and The American Library Association's extensive site on Banned Books Week

Take care and happy reading! Check out a banned book today!


  1. Great post, and indeed Kathleen is one of the top reasons folks love the Yuba County Library so much.

    Yes, if I ever get around to writing a book, I hope it is banned! All that free publicity?! That would make it a bestseller!

  2. SE Hinton's The Outsiders is my bible. I'm so serious. I discovered her in my school library when I was 14 and my friend and I were sent there as punishment for being silly in class. We were supposed to help with the shelving and tidying and being quiet and lo and behold there was this tiny little paperback, pages browned at the edges in a manky plastic covering and there was something about the front cover - four drawn moody guys staring at me and the title and author. That's it. Oh wow. What a find!!!!! Sorry, I digressed but boy oh boy, The Outsiders!!!

    Yay for libraries!! Yay for brave and brilliant library staff!! Take care

  3. Dear Anon: Yes, without Kathleen at the library I think the lights would actually dim.

  4. Kitty: This is such a great story about your discovery of The Outsiders. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm really enjoying the fourteen year old's voice telling the story. I think writing in the first person is the hardest POV to take and Ponyboy tells the whole story so brilliantly.

    I wonder if a lot of writers can relate to being 'outsiders' even though we're not 'greasers'. Writers must live and observe life at the same time which puts us in a unique frame of mind I think.

  5. Rahma..I have read James and the Giant Peach, To Kill a Mockingbird, HP books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
    I think banning a book is a surefire way of ensuring readership. All that free publicity is awesome! :)

  6. Rachna: Free publicity and awesome company!

  7. I'm from the U.K. I pray that we never go the way of the U.S. Banning books? Next they'll be burning them in the streets.

  8. Tooty: If they start burning books, I may pack my bags and move to the U.K.


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