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Banned Books Week: What You Need to Know

Censorship is alive and well, as highlighted by Banned Books Week—and you might be surprised by who the most vocal challengers of books are.

The importance of the First Amendment and the concept of "intellectual freedom" might not always be readily apparent to most kids, but Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to make those lessons come alive for children—and adults.

Banned Books Week is held annually during the last week of Sept. (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012). The week is an occasion for libraries and bookstores across the U.S. to help folks realize just how real and ongoing a problem censorship is.

Here's what some groups in East Atlanta Patch are doing to celebrate:

  • Bound To Be Read Books in East Atlanta Village will be hosting a very special event on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m. on censorship, freedom of speech and First Amendment issues in America today. The event features Robert L. Rothman, a partner at Arnal Golden Gregory LLC. Rothman, who has extensive experience in complex litigation, is a former journalist and has a particular interest in media law. He also represents several media companies.
  • To celebrate Banned Books Week, the Little Free Libraries in East Lake will all contain books that have at some point been banned somewhere in the United States. You will find information about where and why those books were banned inside of each book. To kick things off, the LFL will host story time at the ELF Market on Saturday, Sept. 29th. Check out ELF's Story Time page for more information.

More than 11,000 books have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982, the inaugural year of Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the vast majority of challenges to books are initiated locally by parents, likely in well-meaning attempts to protect their children. 

Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.

Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle 

2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa


3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

If you’re interested in celebrating Banned Books Week as part of a lesson for your kids—or simply to feel like a rebellious reader—check out these additional resources:

TELL US: Do you think books should be banned from schools, bookstores or libraries?

Rob M September 28, 2012 at 03:13 PM
So glad to see this list..Without important posts like this not everyone would know "important and valuable books" to add to their reading list. Proud to say I've read about 1/3 already. Can't wait to dive into the rest. Nice job Melanie

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