I (and my family) Read Banned Books!

Clip art courtesy of the American Library Association

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

This is the time of year that your librarians are getting ready to school you on the fact that there are many books challenged or banned by the public every year, and some of these attempts are even successful at getting books pulled off the shelves of your favorite library. Public, school and higher ed. libraries will be putting up displays on tables, in cases and on websites alerting users to the annual event,  Banned Books Week (September 21-September 27). You may even come across the Library Bill of Rights, which many of you outside the world of librarianship may not even know exists, but which many libraries and librarians ascribe to, which helps in the purchasing of materials, the planning of programs, and is the foundation for this very important week.

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The wonderful thing about the annual Banned Books Week, is that it is an event promoted by librarians around the country who share together in the philosophy of the Library Bill of Rights. This upcoming week provides an opportunity to inform library users that some of their fellow community members find certain reading material objectionable, and that those same community members have taken steps to try and prevent others from reading those materials. The sad fact is that there has been a Banned Books Week year after year for more than three decades, and that there continue to be new books added to the banned and challenged list within our county where “freedom rings.” While this yearly challenging and banning can seem to be a sad statement on how some may try and squash others’ freedoms, I would suggest that we take the opportunity of this upcoming week which celebrates the freedom of information and look at it as a positive thing, a way to discover some new reads and to begin some lively conversations over books and their possible controversial subject matter.

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For professional and personal reasons, I scan the list of banned books every year, looking for those I’ve read.  As a parent, I compare the list with what I’ve seen on the reading lists of my kids and wonder at whether I’m a bad parent or not for allowing my children to have read that particular banned or challenged title. As it turns out I don’t feel bad, in fact I feel proud at having had the opportunity to read a particular book or allowed my children to experience those stories. If anything, especially in terms of children and teen books, these challenges provide an opportunity to have some really important conversations with your children regarding certain subject matters that some might find difficult to talk about, but are often experiences that they or friends they know may have had in their real life.

Obviously, there are some books that include subject matter that may be more appropriate for a  reader depending on their age and experience, and parents should definitely keep that in mind in terms of supervising their own children’s reading habits, but what I think is the most important thing to remember during the upcoming week, and throughout the year, as we all encounter new and challenging books, is that it is an individual’s choice as to what to read, and not something to be dictated by others.


Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

Here are some of my favorite Banned Books:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
  4. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  5. Harry Potter(series), by J.K. Rowling

– Maria J.


Filed under Uncategorized

21 responses to “I (and my family) Read Banned Books!

  1. I like banned books and I cannot lie!

  2. I have never heard of the Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian or Thirteen Reasons Why or Julie of the Wolves though they all sound like great titles and given your recommendation I will look out for copies of them.

  3. Beth L

    And to join your community members, don’t forget about the FREADOM to READ program sponsored by the ACLU and CLP celebrating this important freedom. It’s a free event, local celebrity readers and this coming Monday: http://www.aclupa.org/takeaction/events/2014freadom/

  4. Out of curiosity, can anybody enlighten me as to why the Harry Potter series was banned?

    • According to the ALA, the reasons for bans/challenges attached to the Potter series cited most often were: Satanism/occult, violence, religious viewpoint, anti-family. You might find this list of frequently challenged books, and the reasons why, helpful:


      For the Potter series, you need to scroll all the way down to 2001, which is at the bottom of the page. The series appeared on the most frequently challenged list from 2001 through 2003, then dropped off. Without looking at every single challenge, it would be difficult to give each individual reason, but this seems to be a good summary.

      Hope that helps, and thank you for reading/commenting!

  5. I was a little surprised by the list of banned books, it would be interesting to know why such books are banned in the first place. Is there a litmus test that each book must pass. Like the Color Purple, i have written a book that takes place in the South, the 1960’s South. I hope the derogatory words of bigotry and hate I use in the book, won’t put it in a category where the message of racism and hate that existed back then and still exists won’t be available to the masses. Thanks for the article

  6. Though I know it to be true, I find it astounding that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was banned. I have heard the book referred to as racist but as a person of color, I find Harper Lee’s novel to be sensitive and enlightening.

    Thank you for reminding us of this unfortunate tradition.


  7. Reblogged this on Wildemere/Writer and commented:
    An important discussion about an unfortunate tradition…

  8. socialdee

    Reblogged this on Seoul Searching: Dispatches from Dubai and commented:
    I have to be more careful here in Dubai, but surprisingly, most books are readily available. Just don’t assign Anne Frank or Number the Stars…

  9. lectorconstans

    There’s a long list over at the ALA site:(this is probably the one you meant):


    This is the sort of thing Bradbury was talking about when he wrote “Fahrenheit 451”. Not the government, but busybody school boards and milquetoast librarians. If you can find it there’s on e edition of “Fahrenheit 451” that has an intro (or preface) by Bradbury where he talks about local censorship.

  10. The reason I appreciate banned books is that typically they are powerful and make the reader face *gasp!* real issues. That’s also why people fear them. They don’t want something ruining their fictional world of denial and safety with fiction that delves into some heavy and quite real issues. More’s the pity for them.

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