Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free to Read

What will you be reading next week? That question could have a very different answer than what you might be thinking right now if some people had their way. Every year many books face challenges. People want to pull books from the shelves of their school and public libraries because because they don't think it is appropriate for someone else to read.

Since 1982 Banned Books Week has been observed in the United States. And this weekend will start the 2008 observance. Starting 27 September and ending on 4 October we have the opportunity to participate in Banned Books week.

Book are challenged for a variety of reasons. The American Library Association lists the most common on its website. They include reasons such as "sexually explicit" content, "offensive language," material that is considered by some to be "unsuited to [an] age group," books having an "occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism," works that are considered "violent," books with a homosexual theme or that are considered by some to be "promoting homosexuality," or works that "promoting a religious viewpoint." Challenges are also frequently made against books that contain “nudity," issues related to "racism," "sex education," or that are considered by some "anti-family."

Some of you may ask, "Why would I want to celebrate banned books week? I don't want to read a book that has been challenged this reason or that reason." But let me ask you a question:

If books were banned - who would get to choose what books were "appropriate" for you to read?

I would be willing to bet that there are books that have been challenged that you have read. Probably even several that you absolutely loved. I know that is the case for me.

Here's a short list of some books that are frequently challenged - to see the entire list of frequently challenged books visit the American Library Association's website.

Book Cover A Light in the Attic
By Silverstein, Shel
1981/10 - HarperCollins Publishers
0060256737 CHECK CATALOG

"Silverstein's book . . . deserves to be placed along-side Mother Goose. Popular with adults and youngsters alike, the poetry encompasses satires, limericks, ballads, questions, tall stories, ridiculous situations, and a deft way with language."--"Language Arts." Illustrations. ...More

Book Cover Bridge to Terabithia
By Paterson, Katherine
Leonard, Robert Sean
Leonard, Robert Sean
2001/01 - Harper Children's Audio
0694524522 CHECK CATALOG

In this classic novel, the friendship between young Jess and Leslie grows as they meet in Terabithia, their secret hiding place where the two of them rule as king and queen. Then tragedy strikes and their kingdom is threatened. Only when Jess comes to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the gift Leslie has given him. Unabridged. ...More

Book Cover The Witches
By Dahl, Roald
Blake, Quentin
2007/08 - Puffin Books

Meet a hero, a wise old grandmother, and the most gruesome, grotesque gang of witches imaginable! ...More

Book Cover A Wrinkle in Time
By L'Engle, Madeleine
1962/01 - Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374386139 CHECK CATALOG

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."
A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. "A Wrinkle in Time," winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in sear

Book Cover I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
By Angelou, Maya
2002/03 - Random House
9780375507892 CHECK CATALOG

In the first volume of an extraordinary autobiographical series, one of the most inspiring authors of our time recalls--with candor, humor, poignancy and grace--how her journey began....

"From the Trade Paperback edition. ...More

Book Cover Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
By Rowling, J. K.
GrandPre, Mary
1997/01 - Scholastic
9780590353403 CHECK CATALOG

Rosie Award Winner 2000-2001
2000 Grand Canyon Reader Award Winner - Teen
Winner - 2001 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award
CCBC Choices - 1998
What did Harry Potter know about magic? He was stuck with the decidedly un-magical Dursleys, who hated him. He slept in a closet and ate their leftovers. But an owl messenger changes all that, with an invitation to attend the Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches, where it turns out Harry is already famous.. . . Full color.

Book Cover The Giver
By Lowry, Lois
1997/05 - Laurel-Leaf Books
9780440227274 CHECK CATALOG


Book Cover The Chocolate War
By Cormier, Robert
1974/03 - Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780394828053 CHECK CATALOG

Reissued now in hardcover with a new introduction by the author, Cormier's chilling look at the insidious world of gang intimidation and the abuse of power in a boys' boarding school is no less relevant today than it was in 1974. ...More

Book Cover James and the Giant Peach: A Children's Story
By Dahl, Roald
Smith, Lane
1996/04 - Puffin Books
0140374248 CHECK CATALOG

When magic touches an old peachtree, strange things start happening. A giant peach grows as large as a house, and when James crawls inside, the adventure begins. Lane Smith has created wonderful new illustrations based on the characters in the new full-length movie from Disney. ...More

Book Cover The Color Purple
By Walker, Alice
2006/11 - Harvest Books
9780156031820 CHECK CATALOG

Banner] Now a Tony Award-Winning Broadway Musical

"The Color Purple "is the story of two sisters--one a missionary to Africa and the other a child wife living in the South--who remain loyal to one another across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

"Intense emotional impact . . . Indelibly affecting . . . Alice Walker is a lavishly gifted writer."--"The New York Times Book Review
""Places Walker in the company of Faulkner."--"The Nation
""Superb . . . A work to stand beside literature of any time and place."--"San Francisco"" Chronicle
"""The Color Purple "is an American novel of permanent importance."--"Newsweek
""Marvelous characters . . . A story of revelation .

Book Cover Day No Pigs Would Die
By Peck, Robert Newton
1994/09 - Topeka Bindery
9780785713524 CHECK CATALOG

This gentle story about a 12-year-old Vermont farm boy "manages to evoke a sense of vanished America--when neighbors were neighborly, when food was home-cooked, and clothes and philosophy homespun" (Newsweek). ALA Best Book for Young Adults. ...More

Book Cover The Great Gilly Hopkins
By Paterson, Katherine
1978/03 - HarperCollins
9780690038385 CHECK CATALOG

Winner of the 1979 National Book Award for Children's Literature and many other distinguished awards, this 1979 Newbery Honor Book is filled with love and compassion as it tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who yearns for a real family. ...More

Book Cover The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Twain, Mark
Fishkin, Shelley Fisher
2002/12 - Signet Book
9780451528643 CHECK CATALOG

Newly repackaged and featuring a new Introduction, Twain's classic tales of life on the Mississippi capture both the complexities of American life while regaling the boyhood adventures of two of the most popular characters in American literature. Reissue. ...More

Book Cover The Catcher in the Rye.
By Salinger, J. D.
1951/07 - Little Brown and Company
9780316769532 CHECK CATALOG

The hero-narrator of "The Catcher in the Rye" is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices -- but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. Ho ...More

Book Cover Fallen Angels
By Myers, Walter Dean
2003/02 - Topeka Bindery
9780833531803 CHECK CATALOG

This 1989 Coretta Scott King award winner is the story of one young man's tour of duty in Vietnam as well as a testament to the thousands of young people who lived and died during the war. ...More

Book Cover More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
By Schwartz, Alvin
Gammell, Stephen
1986/09 - HarperTrophy
0064401774 CHECK CATALOG

For fans of things that go bump in the night, here is a bewitching treat. "Not since "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" has there been a collection of horror stories as well suited for children."--"School Library Journal." Illustrations. ...More

Book Cover The Face on the Milk Carton
By Cooney, Caroline B.
1996/04 - Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

Iowa Teen Award - 1993 Winner
YHBA Winner 1993
A photograph of a missing girl on a milk carton leads Janie on a search for her real identity.

Book Cover Native Son
By Wright, Richard
2005/08 - Harper Perennial

Native Son tells the story of A young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America. ...More

Book Cover Anastasia Krupnik
By Lowry, Lois
de Groat, Diane
1979/10 - Houghton Mifflin Company
0395286298 CHECK CATALOG

Anastasia's tenth year has some good things, like falling in love and really getting to know her grandmother, and some bad things, like finding out about an impending baby brother. ...More

Book Cover

By Morrison, Toni
2004/06 - Vintage Books USA
1400033411 CHECK CATALOG

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved" is a towering achievement. ...More

Book Cover Lord of the Flies
By Golding, William
Forster, E. M.
Forster, E. M.
1997/08 - Riverhead Books
1573226122 CHECK CATALOG

Capturing generations of readers since its publication in 1954, "Lord of the Flies" is a cult favorite among students and literary critics. An adventure tale in its purest form, this thrilling account of a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island exposes the duality of human nature itself--the dark, eternal divide between order and chaos, intellect and instinct, structure and savagery. ...More

Book Cover
Browse Inside

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Lee, Harper
2002/03 - Harper Perennial Modern Classics
0060935464 CHECK CATALOG

This beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning classic is now being published with the original jacket art, printed endpapers, a ribbon marker, and a full cloth slipcase. Lee's timeless masterpiece makes the perfect gift for every generation. (Literary Classics) ...More

Book Cover The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
By Twain, Mark
Seelye, John
Cardwell, Guy
2006/02 - Penguin Books
0143039563 CHECK CATALOG

The classic story of Missouri river-rat Tom Sawyer is joined by an Introduction by noted Twain scholar Seelye, who considers Twain's impact on American literature. ...More

Book Cover Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
By Blume, Judy
2001/04 - Atheneum Books
0689841582 CHECK CATALOG


Book Cover Julie of the Wolves
By George, Jean Craighead
2003/09 - HarperTrophy
0060540958 CHECK CATALOG

Now in a new paperback edition--the Newbery Medal-winning classic that introduced a brave girl named Miyax and the wild pack of wolves that teaches her how to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. ...More

The American Library Association reported that between 1990 and 2004 the most frequently challenged books were by authors like Alvin Schwartz, Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, J.K. Rowling, Michael Willhoite, Katherine Paterson, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, R.L. Stine, and John Steinbeck. Any of these sound familiar to you? I'm guessing that you have at least heard of more than one of these authors. We have books by these authors on our library shelves and check them out to readers every day.

What if these books (and many more) were all of a sudden unavailable for you to read? What if you knew your child would never be able to read one of them?

So, what will you be reading next week? Aren't you glad the choice is yours? Aren't you gald that you are free to read?

Let's keep it that way by discouraging book banning and by supporting Banned Book Week.

Here's a great video from YouTube in which Katie Couric talks about Banned Book week.



Becky said...

Just want to say that I have read most of these books and agree that they are great books. I am a huge fan of "Bridge to Tarabithia", "The Color Purple", and all of Shell Silverstein's books. Just to give you a heads-up, another great book will soon be coming out.... On October 6th Linda Overman's newest book, "Letter's Between Us," is scheduled to come out. I had the privilege of previewing it and have to say that it is a really touching story of two childhood friends who go their different ways in life. One friend dies and the other friend is left to revisit the past through old letter's of correspondence (between the two), and her friend's journal entries. In my opinion a movie should be made about this book.

Claudia said...

What about Brave New World and 1984?