During Banned Books Week, libraries take the time to celebrate stories that some thought shouldn’t be told, and the right of everyone to read those same stories. It is a celebration of the rights the First Amendment protects and the wonderful insights and narratives that those protections have enabled libraries to share and for people of all ages to learn from. However, the very existence of Banned Books Week demonstrates that this freedom of expression is still contested, and it is often youth who stand up and protect their own access to their rights. Stories like those that follow help give insight into the emotional realities of taking a stand as a young person. They are invaluable resources for youth trying to understand the importance of this time of year in particular, and the value of their voices all year round.
International books offer teen readers unique perspectives into the lives of young people from other countries. In some ways, these experiences are universal, yet in other ways they are particular to their cultural milieu. They are windows that open readers’ eyes to different experiences, different ways of thinking, and different norms, and in doing so, they may challenge our notions about what we deem socially acceptable.
Only a very small number of international books make it into the U.S. market, and even less into our YA market. Then, a select few of those books are granted the dubious honor of appearing on our Banned Books lists.
It is ironic that the very books whose value lies (in part, at least) in their ability to expand the minds of young adult readers by offering them perspectives outside of their cultural bubbles should be banned — often for those very same perspectives and ideas which are at their core.
Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read, to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox, unpopular, or “other.” International books may contain elements of all those things. We celebrate them here by exploring a sampling of international YA books that have been banned or challenged at one point or another, both here in the United States and abroad. Continue reading Banned Books: International Edition
It’s Banned Books Week! That time of year when we are all encouraged to discuss the importance of intellectual freedom and the problem with banning books. 2015 is not without its share of book challenges and bans making it into the news. For a few examples check out these articles on Ted Dawe’s Into the River, Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime.
While news articles like these are a great place to start talking about book banning, there’s another kind of censorship I want to encourage us all to think about – self censorship. A simple search will pull up a number of interesting studies and articles on the subject, especially Debra Lau Whelen’s 2009 survey for School Library Journal and the accompanying article “A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship.”
This is Banned Books Week and I have some tweets on the topic below, but also check out the entire #bannedbooksweek hashtag for more tweets.
- @PWKidsBookshelf : Rick Riordan announces name for his new Norse mythology series http://pwne.ws/1xev7do
- @AlleyofBooks : A YA from Sophie Kinsella? Yes, please! Kinsella pens YA novel | The Bookseller http://shar.es/1a6jUS
- @YABliss : This week’s YA Releases! http://www.yabliss.net/2014/09/ya-releases_22.html â€¦ #yalit #books
Banned Books Week:
- @sljournal : Graphic Novels a â€˜Gateway to Adult Literacy,’ Claims Study via LJ INFOdocket http://ow.ly/BOBGl #BannedBooksWeek
- @HMHKids : Why teaching Banned Books is important: http://ow.ly/BPEuq #BannedBooksWeek
- @PenguinTeen : This @HuffingtonPost #BannedBooksWeek article is full of interesting infographics. Check it out! http://huff.to/1og4j41 #IReadBannedBooks
- @sljournal : UPDATED: SLJ’s Resources On Banned Books and Censorship http://ow.ly/BN4tF #BannedBooksWeek
- @TLT16 : Maybe libraries shouldn’t even HAVE materials challenge forms? A #BannedBooksWeek discussion http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2013/09/sunday-reflections-radical-banned-books.html â€¦
- @DuttonBooks : Which banned book are you? Take the quiz and exhibit the right to read! http://ow.ly/BN5GC @play_buzz
- @sljournal : Should â€˜Girl’ Books Be Labeled? | Scales on Censorship http://ow.ly/BLJFt #BannedBooksWeek
- @HMHKids : It’s #bannedbooksweek and @Bustle is taking a look at some of the craziest book banning stories in children’s lit: http://ow.ly/BLWJ9
- @BannedBooksWeek : Wa hoo! Captain Underpants himself, Dav Pilkey, created this awesome video for #BannedBooksWeek: http://youtu.be/eA6_yp2CvlU
I love Banned Books Week. I find that every year it comes around, there is always a new population of people who have no idea what it is. They look at our displays in our libraries and bookstores and wonder what it is all about. I’ve even had some teens look at my display one year and then ask if they could actually check them out.
I think that is the best part of Banned Book Week: it gives you a way to have a conversation with patrons and readers about censorship, the freedom to read, and the nature of ideas.
Every year the American Library Association releases their list of the most frequently banned or challenged books in the United States. For 2013 to 2014 there are a lot of great YA novels on the list. Looking for Alaska (2006 Printz winner), I Hunt Killers, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (2008 Best Books for Young Adults), and Eleanor & Park (2014 Printz honor book) all grace the list.
It’s always fascinating to see the reasons why a book has been challenged or removed from a school or library. Personally, some of the reasons the books are challenged are the same reasons I think those books are great. Take the challenge in 2013 for Alexie’s Part-Time Indian: it was challenged because it presented the “crude, obscene, and unfiltered viewpoint of a ninth-grader growing up on the reservation.” That’s what makes the book so funny, accessible, and important to other teenagers! Continue reading Banned Books Week: Why Do People Try to Ban Books Again?
Welcome to Banned Books Week! Carolyn Mackler’s 2003 novel, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things, received a Printz Honor Award and has been lauded for the realistic way Mackler discusses body issues, particularly big butts.
In 2008, however, The Earth was banned from an entire school district. As Mackler describes, ” The superintendent had banned the book from an entire school district. And he was responding to a parent who was offended by some words, who had not read the book, but had flipped through it and seen profanities.” (http://www.bookslut.com/features/2009_12_015466.php)
Virginia is the heavy girl in a family of thin people. Her parents are certain that she would be happier if she lost ten or twenty pounds. Virginia suspects that it’s they who would be happier if she were slim. It breaks her heart.
Contrast Virginia’s situation with that of the saucy girl in Meghan Trainor’s “I’m All About That Bass.” She’s flaunting the sexy and the profane, with some motherly advice that Virginia could have used:
Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along
-Diane Colson, currently reading Aftermath by Jen Alexander
I guess it’s no secret by now that I love comics (probably more than a sane person does or should), so I was really excited and happy and thrilled to learn that for this year’s Banned Books Week celebration, the American Library Association is choosing to focus on comics, graphic novels and manga and the attempts made to censor them at every level.
From Batman to teenage angst to superheroes who really aren’t that super, books that have inspired and encouraged readers to keep the lights on long after the dark has settled in have been challenged and often times removed from shelves, denying future readers the eye-opening wonder of reading these thought provoking and sometimes just plain fun stories.
In this post, I thought I’d give a brief look at the attempts to censor comics from practically the moment they were introduced as well as showcase comics’ greatest superhero â€“ the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) as well as give you all a taste of some of my favorite banned & challenged comics & graphic novels. Here we go, dear readers, into the not so distant past â€“ join me, won’t you?
September brings a lot of things: cooler temperatures, pumpkin everything, the start of a new school year, Library Card Sign-up Month, and Banned Books Week, to name just a few. This year, Banned Books Week is focusing on comics and I thought I would share some contemporary, realistic graphic novels. What other recommendations do you have?
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Katie’s life was going pretty well– until it wasn’t. She soon discovers a way to do things overâ€¦ and soon Katie can’t stop redoing anything that goes wrong.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose and her family spend their summers at Awago Beach. This summer is different. Her parents won’t stop fighting and she and her friend get tangled up in some local drama. Continue reading Is This the Real Life?: Graphic Novels