Thursday, September 23, 2010

Support A Challenged Author, 'Cause Banned Books Week Is Next Week

Banned and challenged books have been in YA bookish news a lot lately.  From Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK being called porn to Sarah Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER being challenged to a huge debaucle over Ellen Hopkins speaking at a YA festival that was evenutally cancelled because of author solidarity with Ellen, we've seen a lot about censorship in YA over this past summer.  Followers have even started a Twitter hashtag (#SpeakLoudly) to discuss the subject.

While we whole-heartedly advocate that parents decide what material is appropriate for their children to read (yes, including teens!), we also abhor the practice of wide-spread and absolute censorship and book banning.  In our minds, it's equivocal to book burning.  You're taking away freedom when you take a book off of a shelf.  You're taking away a parent's right to choose whether or not their child can read the book.  You're taking away the right of a child to learn a valuable lesson through the perspective of a fictional character.  You're taking away a resource that might help someone.  So to those of you who challenge books, quit being selfish.  Quit trying to make and enforce unilateral decisions for others.  Quit trying to play God.  Let us all use our first ammendment rights, and our intellectual rights to choose what we put in our heads, mmmkay?

For those of you who are with me on the matter (yes, I am aware that some of you are not), join with me in supporting challenged authors by selecting one challenged book that you haven't yet read and purchasing it next week, or sporting your library copy in public  for Banned Books Week next week (September 25- October 2).  Ideally, you'd sock it to the Thought Police by reading it too, but we realize that money sometimes speaks just as loud as words.  So you pick.  Read one from the library, or pick up your own shiny brand-new copy, but make some sort of a statement by sporting a banned book in public next week, will ya?  I'll be sporting Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK.  To help you choose, here are about a zillion links to most-challenged books, also check out banned books from last year.  Which one do you think you'll pick?  Let us know in the comments section.

Ten Most Challenged Books from 2009 per ALA:
(also check out the 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 lists and decade lists for the '90s and '00s)
1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
   Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
   Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
   Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
   Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
   Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
   Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
   Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

1 comment:

Tawnya said...

Ok, so I'm all about age appropriate reading, and there have totally been some books that I've thought 'no way are my girls reading that', but isn't that my responsibility to do? Now I would have a problem if they were reading something as a required assignment that I didn't think was appropriate, but honestly between school boards & educational trends I don't really see this happening. If it did, I would hope that i would take the time to read it myself or at least get reviews from people I trust (who have read the book!), and discuss with the teacher their choice & reasoning. I understand that I have a very conservative view & may not enjoy the same books as others, but I don't begrudge others the opportunity to read something I wouldn't, and I certainly wouldn't tell them they can't. Ok, so all that to say let us decide for ourselves, it's the first amendment, which makes me think it's a pretty important one. Let's not take away the rights of authors to say something, and our own rights to hear something.