As a kid, you might have read many books that may not have deemed appropriate for your age, without even thinking about it. Well, some of those books have been challenged or banned across the country. Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. This usually happens the last week of September nationwide, and this year it is from September 24 thru the 30th. This year, the American Library Association will focus on the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to read.
The process for challenging or banning a book can be a little tricky and complicated, but Hilary Crowder, an Adult Reference Librarian at Larry J. Ringer Library, broke it down into simpler terms.
“A book that is challenged means that someone writes a complaint about a book, but that does not mean that it will be banned. Books that are challenged are taken up by the American Library Association. Usually for libraries, we have more of a fighting chance for that book not to get banned,” Crowder said.
Parents are the ones that usually challenge these books. Some of the most common reasons for a challenge being, magic, racism, homosexuality, graphic sex, vulgar language, graphic violence, substance abuse, and religious irreverence. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library.
Books have been challenged in classrooms or libraries, and our libraries want to make people aware that it happens. The majority of the books being challenged are children’s books or teen books that are not appropriate at the level at which they are marketed. Some of the books on display at Larry J. Ringer Library seem very innocent, such as “Bless Me, Ultima,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Anne Frank’s Diary,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “Captain Underpants.”
“Each issue is managed locally, but the American Library Association takes a look at each complaint and goes from there. Each book challenged is taken up locally as well, and, if that book were to be banned, it would just be banned from the specific library and nowhere else,” Crowder said.
This year’s motto is “Books Have Power.” Our freedom of speech is threatened when people decide to challenge or ban a book, so let us come together and celebrate the freedom to read. For more information check out http://www.bcslibrary.org/events/?mc_id=7811 or simply walk into the library closest to you to see the banned books.