Tag Archives: banned books

Pumpkin Lattes and More Banned Books

Image courtesy ALA.

Image courtesy ALA.

Did you forget Banned Books Week? Or did you celebrate fully with one copy of Lolita in your right hand and the Bible in your left? Whatever the case, we have a quiz for you.

At the ACLU and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Banned Book event fREADom on September 30, librarians from CLP delivered a Banned Books quiz to an audience that included such famous Pittsburghers as Etta Cox, Lynn Cullen, Terrance Hayes, Rick Sebak and members of LUPEC. It was delightful, dirty and an all-around a good time.

But if you missed it (or if you’re suffering Banned Books Week withdrawal), have no fear, we’ve got the questions right here. This year’s BBW celebrated young adult literature, and (hint) we did too. We’ve even linked you to other BBW lists and quizzes in some of the answers so you can keep the party going year-round, because a week isn’t enough to celebrate banned books. Enjoy! (But don’t scroll down too far! Answers are below.)

Questions:

  1. This book was banned for “bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level” and undermining gender roles. It stars a girl from Kansas, her dog, a not-so-brave lion, a scarecrow and a man made of tin who all take a trek down a yellow brick road to find someone to grant their wishes.
  2. Called “trash and only suitable for the slums,” this famous American author’s book had a teenager floating down the Mississippi River with his friend, a metaphor for growing up.
  3. This book appeared on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently challenged books, and sparked controversy when it was banned by two school districts back in 2004, five years after it was first published. In this latest instance in Wallingford, Connecticut, a parent complained because of a two-page section of the book in which the protagonist witnesses date rape—the section most often contested. In 2013, author Judy Blume came to the rescue of this book after a Chicago school district banned the book in its junior high school. Blume’s intervention sparked a nearly unanimous vote on the school board to reinstate the book later that year in a Banned Books Miracle. Hint: It’s set in Pittsburgh.
  4. Banned for alleged misogyny, author Roald Dahl humorously defended his book with this statement: “I do not wish to speak badly about women. Most women are lovely. But the fact remains that all witches are women. There is no such thing as a male witch. On the other hand, a ghoul is always a male… both are dangerous.  But neither of them is half as dangerous as a REAL WITCH.” Hint: Made into a movie starring Anjelica Huston.
  5. On the same theme, name the popular series that had many religious groups concerned about the books’ focus on witchcraft — and even went so far as to burn them (the books, not the witches) — while other groups merely think that they’re too scary and set a bad example for children.
  6. What 1982 book about a relationship between two high school girls, Annie and Liza, was burned outside of Kansas City, Kansas, school district offices because it described a blooming romantic and sexual relationship between the girls?
  7. This title is still sometimes taken off shelves or reading lists. Not because students might get nightmares reading about a family hiding in an attic until they were dragged into Nazi death camps, but because at one, brief point the 14-year-old protagonist describes her maturing anatomy.
  8. Not strictly a teen read but something that is found in every middle and high school, which fundamental book was banned in the Menifree school district in California for an entry on oral sex? Hint: It’s not a thesaurus.
  9. Can you “catch” on to this banned title? He’s a typical, if moody, teenager. He mourns the loss of his younger brother, hangs out with his younger sister and eventually gets thrown into a psychiatric treatment center. He probably thinks you are phony.
  10. Where the Sidewalk Ends author Shel Silverstein’s other book was banned for “glorifying Satan,” “suicide and cannibalism” and “encouraging children to be disobedient,” as well as the unforgivable offense of “breaking dishes so they wouldn’t have to dry them.” What is the title of this banned collection of poems?
  11. Competition arises among talking farm animals when two pigs fight for control. What is the name of this book?
  12. Banned from many school libraries, protests were lodged against this alliterative title. An interactive, illustrated book, readers looked for the character in many scenes, but detractors who got the book banned saw and objected to topless sun bathers, gay lovers and characters holding up the hail Satan sign.  Hint: The titular character is most identifiable by his red and white striped shirt and red cap.
  13. Name the title or author! This autobiographical novel, with illustrations, tells the story of a young cartoonist who leaves his Native American reservation school in order to pursue his life and studies in the all-white world of the neighboring school.  This young adult favorite has been banned for “pornographic language” and depicting scenes of sex and violence.  It won the National Book Award in 2007.
  14. Students try to get A’s in school, but that wouldn’t be good in this book. The book still places on the Banned Book list because it is considered sinful and obscene by objectors. Which Nathaniel Hawthorne book is this?
Now, think long and hard ...

“Is the answer Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson?”
Click through for source.

Answer Key:

  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  4. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  6. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  8. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  9. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  10. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  11. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  12. Where’s Waldo by Martin Handford
  13. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  14. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 So how did you do? Post your score in the comments below.

-Isabelle

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Welcome… To Banned Books Week 2015

bannedbooks

Image courtesy ALA. Click through for source.

I would like to personally welcome you to the beginning of Banned Books Week.

The focus of Banned Books week is to celebrate the freedom to read, and to hopefully have a discussion about why certain books have been banned or challenged throughout the years. This week is not about forcing someone into a set of ideas, or taking away people’s rights to voice their opinion about a book. It’s about bringing to light the harm that censorship can do to people of all ages, races, religions….well, all people.

I believe that ALA’s website defines and describes banned and challenged books the best by saying challenges are “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group” and continues with “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, thereby restricting the access of others.”

I wanted this post to be informational to those who have not heard of Banned Books Week before, or those who have but weren’t quite sure what the big deal was, because I’m sure there will be plenty of posts/blogs/articles/podcasts/information about all the books that have been banned or challenged. Therefore, welcome to a passionate and intense week of book discussions and their value to the readers.

-Abbey

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Reading Challenges Galore

Many people decided to set themselves reading challenges for the new year. I’ll be honest, it was a little overwhelming seeing all the different ideas. I wasn’t sure which one would work for me; I wanted a challenge that would actually challenge me (not just “read a book outside your traditional genre” because just reading one book technically could have fulfilled that challenge). Well, I finally found one.

The challenge was different because it had steps that I have done before and I knew I would enjoy, so it wouldn’t feel like I was failing a challenge because I knew I could do at least part of it. The Ultimate Reading Challenge allowed for new experiences while also reminding me of some types of books that I used to like. It seemed to cover the most variety of the many challenges I saw. I just started it, but I’ve already been able to cross some of the challenges off the list. Here are some of the ones that I’ve completed (or plan on completing for the challenge):

A nonfiction book:

good nurse

The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber is a  book about Charles Cullen, a nurse who altered medication and wound up killing some people in a variety of hospitals.
This book was actually recommended to me, but if anyone likes non-fiction somewhat murder mystery I would pick it up. I’ve always struggled with non-fiction because to me it feels as though it drags, but this one goes pretty fast.

 

 

A book with antonyms in the title:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is about three women who need to make major decisions

big little liesin their life all while trying to figure out if what has happened is a tragic accident or a murder that needs to be solved.
I have not read this one yet, but I do want to, and my mom wants to as well….and I’m hoping she loves it so that I can check off two books on the challenge while reading just one….that’s not cheating is it?

 

 

 

 

A banned book:

chocolate warThe Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is a book about a boy who is trying to find his way in a new school. This means struggling with bullying and hazing and still maintaining his grades.
Banned books themselves are another reading challenge for me. I am determined to read each one on the list but I’m not limiting myself to a year to do that. I enjoyed The Chocolate War because I thought it was an interesting take on the struggles that come with being in school. The entire book resonated with me.

Some of the books are more difficult to find, I struggled with coming up with some titles that had antonyms in them, but I hope that the challenge inspires some people to try new books, and if anyone has any recommendations please feel free to leave it in the comments. I look forward to expanding my reading horizons!

-Abbey

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Let’s Read a Banned Book!

BBW14_300x250_2

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

 

One of the books that has appeared on the Top 10 list of banned books, compiled by the American Library Association, for each of the last 5 years is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is a young adult novel (as so many of the books on these lists are) about a teenage Native American boy who chooses to attend school outside his home on the reservation. This decision leaves Junior, or Arnold as he’s called off the reservation, shunned by his people, as well as trying to fit in and on the outskirts of his new community. It is an honest portrayal of his life in high school – girls, bullies, fights, sports, and parents. Junior must learn to cope with a lot of loss in his family and embrace what’s good in his life.

Alexie’s book is most often challenged in libraries and schools due to its themes of sexuality, racism, use of drugs and alcohol, and offensive language. Many of these objectors feel that its content is unsuitable for the age group for which it is written. Considering that I have two teenagers at home who are dealing with and making personal decisions about all of the issues listed above, I find it hard to believe that some people don’t seem to understand what really happens in high school. But I shouldn’t judge, I’m sure they have their reasons. I’m more grateful that there are books like this available to my teenagers, so they know that what they’re going through is typical. They are not abnormal or weird. Being able to relate to a book’s characters and to recognize yourself in their struggles is one of the most important things a book can impart to an adolescent in the throes of indecision and hormones and peer pressure. But that’s just one person’s opinion. Happily for me and mine, those librarians and educators who fight against the banning of books must feel the same way.

book

Our librarians who lead the Let’s READ English book discussion group at the Main Library have decided that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is also a good vehicle for those who are learning to read and speak English as a second language. As well, it can serve as a catalyst for discussion about life in America amongst this group of foreign language speakers. The Let’s READ English discussion group will be talking about this book at their program on October 10th at 2pm. If you know someone who is looking to improve their English language skills, please have them stop by the library and check out a copy of the book prior to the discussion day.

Today is our last post for Banned Books Week 2014. However, through programming and book recommendations, libraries continue the fight against censorship every week of every year.

Now go out and continue to read banned books all year long!
-Melissa M.

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Celebrate Banned Books Week With Your Favorite Comic

Comics Code Authority Seal

Almost all comics published between 1954 and the 2000s bore this seal, indicating they met a set of rigid standards pertaining to sexuality, violence, and other things.

Yesterday began this year’s Banned Books Week, and lists maintained by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association show that comics are as susceptible to banning as their prose cousins.

In a way, it’s flattering to the medium that comics and graphic novels are being challenged and banned in public school systems and libraries each year alongside well-known literary classics (“challenged” means someone wanted the book removed but was unsuccessful in their bid, and the book remained on the shelves).

It means kids are reading these books, that they’re making it onto curricula and reading lists, and that they’re making people uncomfortable.

But kids have been reading comics since adults have been publishing them. And the history of censorship and banning comics goes back almost just as far. Church groups and educators attacked crime and adventure comics for their content as early as the 1930s, according to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Comic book censorship would have remained on the fringe, though, if not for noted social scientist and psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham, who believed comics harmed children and turned them into delinquents.

Seduction of the Innocent by WerthamWhen Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent came out in 1954, America rallied behind his crusade to ban comics, including superhero comics, which he thought harmed children by making them believe incredible and fantastical things.

A round of congressional hearings later that year resulted in comic book publishers agreeing to self-regulate to avoid government legislation. Publishers formed the Comics Magazine Association of America and the Comics Code Authority, which had to approve every single comic that went up for sale on newsstands. Newsstands refused to sell any book that didn’t display the Comics Code Authority seal (remember: comic shops didn’t exist yet!). If you’ve ever bought a comic, you’ve probably seen the black and white seal that reads “Approved by the Comics Code Authority.”

Among other things, sexuality, corrupt police and government officials, too much violence, and things like werewolves, ghouls and zombies were banned from comics altogether. Read a 1940s Batman comic and then a 1960s Batman comic, and you’ll see the difference immediately. 1940s Batman has a lot more in common with contemporary Batman — he’s pretty darn dark.

The code went through numerous revisions as times changed, and was finally rendered obsolete when the last two major publishers printing the seal on their books — DC and Archie — dropped it in 2011. Changing distribution channels helped comics out greatly in overcoming this form of censorship — not many books are sold on newsstands anymore, for example. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has since acquired the intellectual property rights to the CCA seal.

This issue of Saga wasn't sold in the Apple store immediately upon publication, but appeared later, after protests.

This issue of Saga wasn’t sold in the Apple store immediately upon publication, but appeared later, after protests.

But that doesn’t mean comic creators are free from worry. In addition to challenges in school districts and libraries, censorship comes from unexpected places–like Apple. In 2013, Bleeding Cool reported that Apple required French publisher Izneo to pull 1,500 comics the tech giant considered “pornographic” (even though the comics were meant for adult audiences).

2013 also saw a huge hullabaloo over issue 12 of Saga involving digital comic distributor ComiXology, the Apple Store, and portrayals of gay sex.

Thankfully, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund stands ready to help fight censorship of comics where it can, not to mention the scores of librarians and level-headed adults who stand up for books of all kinds in their cities and towns across America. The future of comics looks pretty great from where I stand.

Even award-winning graphic novels are challenged and banned.

Even award-winning graphic novels are challenged and banned.

To celebrate how far we’ve come, and to remind ourselves of how far yet we have to go, why not pick up one of these “banned” comics this week from your favorite Library?

–Kelly

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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.

bookcover (1)

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.

bookcover (2)

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.

BBW14_Profile_op1

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.

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Déjà Vu All Over Again

Deja Vu Book Club

First, I must apologize. I should have let you all know about this a long time ago. But hindsight is 20/20 and there’s no time like the present. (You can insert here any other belated/late and time related clichés that come to mind.)

areyoutheregodThis Saturday, November 16th at 11:00am will be the second meeting of our newest book group. The Déjà Vu Book Club will be discussing Judy Blume’s coming-of-age classic, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

The book is a tale about a young girl trying to find her place in her new school, her circle of friends, her religious beliefs and within herself. Margaret is at that age where she knows what’s to come and just can’t wait for it to get here. (Periods, boobs, boys, kissing – you know, the usual stuff!) Yet, she also would like things to stay the same. Her sounding board for all of her adolescent conundrums is her own personal God. While her extended family wants her to choose a religion, she finds it difficult because she just doesn’t feel His presence in those houses of worship the way she does when they’re alone.

Besides waxing nostalgic over this pre-teen female rite-of-passage book, we’ll be sure to discuss a bit of the “controversy” surrounding the re-writing of portions of the book by Ms. Blume, to bring certain details into the more modern age. As an aside, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is one of Judy Blume’s most challenged books.

The Déjà Vu Book Club is for people of all ages who are interested in reading, or re-reading, children’s and young adult classics. Come with your best friends, your daughter or son, or by yourself to meet other people who love and have fond memories of the same books you do.

We’ll also be deciding what titles to read next year at this Saturday meeting. If you have a favorite title from your childhood or teenage years that you’d like to read again and discuss, we’d love to know what it is!

So, if you’ve ever read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, either the original or revised version, please come and talk about it with us on Saturday morning. And for those of you who may not have read it yet, please do! We have copies available at the library. You can check it out today and be done by tomorrow. It’s a slim book and a quick read, I promise.

Also, tomorrow morning there will be doughnuts!

-Melissa M.

doughnuts

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