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Tag: banned books week

Prisoner of Books (An Interview with Corey Michael Dalton)

Corey in his prison of books

So it goes

“If somebody claims to have all the answers, they are probably lying.” So says Corey Michael Dalton, who has locked himself in a prison made of banned books to celebrate Banned Books Week. Dalton doesn’t claim to have all the answers; he just has the humble wish that people will read more. His self-imposed exile is an attempt to raise awareness about censorship and reading.

“I didn’t realize that people still banned books,” says Dalton, who was asked to take part in this awareness campaign by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (KVML) in Indianapolis. They have a stake in the argument, as they worked to oppose the ban of Slaughterhouse-Five from Republic High School in Republic, Missouri last year. Dalton, aside from being a board member of the library, has another connection to Vonnegut. He is a former assistant editor of the Saturday Evening Post, which published several of Vonnegut’s early short stories.

The idea came about as a result of the Republic challenge to Slaughterhouse-Five because although the school has since placed the book back in the library, it remains restricted in what some term a “literary gulag.” It was decided that Corey would put himself in lock up as a form of protest for the treatment that Vonnegut’s work has received in the Republic school.

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YA Under Fire: What Makes the Books Teens Love so Controversial?

As the end of September approaches, the air in the library feels charged. The rest of the year, students walking through the commons might glance at my window display and smile. In September, they stop and stare. A boy runs his fingers around the red graffitied letters that spell out “Banned Books Week 2012.” A girl lightly touches the cover images of books like The Hunger Games and Ann Brasheres’s Traveling Pants series — staples in our library — that have been challenged or banned elsewhere. I can read their lips through the glass. “This book was banned?” “Why would anyone want to ban that?” Some come in and pore over the list, gleefully grabbing “forbidden” books from the display rack to check out.

I have learned not to be surprised, but I am still saddened when, year after year, ALA’s list of “Books Challenged or Banned” bears an uncanny resemblance to my summer reading list. For the past seven years, at least half of the books on the top ten list have been YA novels — more than the number of adult and children’s books combined. Even more disturbing, a whopping 36 of the 47 challenges detailed on last year’s list originated either in classrooms and school libraries or in the YA section of public libraries. This means that teens are having their right to read threatened more than any other group. So why are people getting so worked up over YA?


The Next Big Thing in Banned Books

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

It’s that time of year again! While most of the world has no idea to which time I’m referring, those of us who make books our business are perfectly aware that it is Banned Books Week. This is a week we wait for all year: storing up thoughts to share on our blogs and with random passers-by concerning intellectual freedom and the place books play in the dispersion of ideas; carefully considering which books to display in order to get people discussing issues they may not regularly take up; painstakingly deciding how much “shock and awe” our communities can handle as we make banners and posters urging everyone to THINK!

Before we look forward at the next big thing in banned books, let’s take a quick look back at some of the trends in banning and challenging throughout the years.

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Banned Books Week: My banned favorite, The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Every year during Banned Books Week, I like to peruse ALA’s lists of most frequently banned or challenged titles. They have quite a collection by year, by decade, etc. it’s always interesting to see what gets challenged and why. In the list of titles for the decade from 2000-2009, book number 10 always catches my eye: Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’ve read many of the frequently banned & challenged books, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which is soon to be a movie!) has a special place in my heart.

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