Banned Books Week has rolled around again! Celebrating the freedom to read, Banned Books Week runs from September 25 through October 1. This year the theme is celebrating diversity.
It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities, according to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. This year’s Banned Books Week will celebrate literature written by diverse writers that has been banned or challenged, as well as explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out in the first place.
Looking at the books that have been banned or challenged over the last few years, it is easy to see a connection to the politics of our times. While diversity is rarely given as a reason for a ban, there seems to be a definite trend towards the presence of diversity in a book as an underlying factor in why it is challenged. As stated above, the majority of banned books are disproportionately from diverse authors. Furthermore, challenged books are often about gender diversity, people with disabilities, ethnic and/or religious minorities, LGBTQ, or people of color.
It always saddens me to see books we have in our home, books that we love as a family, appear on the Banned Books list. Here are a few of books from our home library that have made the list. The sad state of affairs is, if I include all the books we that have been banned in the past, this list would be really, really long.
Banned Books I am Proud to Own
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit (there is a quick peck between two male characters during a musical performance)
Top Ten Challenged Book: 2014
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
Top Ten Challenged Book: 2015
George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Gender identity “confusion”.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
Top Ten Challenged Book: 2008, 2012, and 2014
Will you be reading any banned or challenged books this week? Which banned books do you own?
You can take a look at the Top Ten banned books in years past at the ALA’s website here.
Banned books are so important – great selections! I have The Kite Runner as well 🙂 Great book.
Thanks! I think if I listed every book we owned that has been challenged, the list would be a mile long!
Hahaha, I can imagine!
Haha crazy! Didn’t know Kite Runner & the curious incident of the dog in the night-time have been banned/challenged!
There must be a cultural difference here. In Finland, you have no right to request some book to be removed from library! I mean it’s totally unheard of! Also never heard that it would have happened in schools 😀 sometimes teacher checked what we read and could recommend some other book.
That’s great, Anastasia! I’m so glad that in Finland this isn’t a thing that happens. Most frequently it happens in schools and public libraries in the US. Over-protective parents and religious groups are the most frequent offenders. But, not all challenges are reported to the ALA, so I’m certain the statistics are skewed and more books are banned/challenged than we know about!
At some point Finland was country with the most free press in the world. I start to get why. I am happy that someone checks what kids read (because some books might be too mature for kids) but books being challenged for political /religious reasons maddens me.
There are definitely some cultural differences! 😊 Most of the challenges here against certain books have an underlying religious component as a reason for the challenge.
Yes, I agree that there are books which are too mature for kids. But I haven’t ever run into a book offered in school I thought was too mature for the age group. I understand parents self-censoring for their children and beliefs, but they shouldn’t make that decision for a group at large. Your family is your family– leave everyone else’s alone!
I am constantly shocked at how many banned books I *do* own. I feel like all the books I own have at least been challenged at some point. For Banned Books Week I am reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Slaughterhouse-Five. I am also going to try and sneak in This One Summer, but that’s a lot of books…
I usually pick out a banned children’s book to read with my daughter this week, but time got away from me. I have talked to her recently about why Drama was challenged; and what that means, since Drama is one of her favorite books.
That’s great! It makes me so happy to hear that people are talking about free speech and why it matters, especially to the younger generations. I love the idea of addressing this directly in a book your daughter loves. That will ensure she connects and understands these ideas. How old is she?
I hope you don’t mind if I borrow that as a blog post idea… I’ll certainly link back to your blog!
Yes, of course you can borrow the idea! My daughter is 8 but her reading level is in the middle-school range. I worked as a human rights advocate before my daughter was born, and civil rights are a frequent topic of conversation in our house. 🙂
Really?! That’s awesome!! I could learn a thing or two from you about sharing with children, for sure. I’m not surprised she has a higher reading level than “expected”, as you are such an avid reader.
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