Dana Rudolph

Celebrate Banned Books!

Filed By Dana Rudolph | September 28, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: ALA, American Library Association, Banned Books Week

It's the start of Banned Books Week here in the U.S., "an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. . . . Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

As I reported back in April, LGBT children's classic And Tango Makes Three topped the American Library Association's list of most challenged books for the third year in a row, with the more recent Uncle Bobby's Wedding coming in at number eight. I'll be putting up relevant posts throughout the week over at Mombian, and I daresay there will be a few more posts about it here at Bilerico, by myself or others.

To get us all in the mood, however, after the jump is a cute public service announcement about the event, plus a very interesting map from Bannedbooksweek.org showing the geographic distribution of book challenges, 2007-2009. No, they're not all in red states, but exist across the country.

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2009 in a larger map

The American Library Association estimates that reported challenges reflect only 20-25% of actual incidents.

It's easy to see, in today's climate, why some might (unfortunately) want to ban LGBT-themed children's books. What is more interesting to me are the many challenged books of various topics that have become classics over the years. In fact, 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been banned or challenged.

Which ones have you enjoyed?

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The first 86 of the one list except 87 (never read Garp). Probably more on the list as well.

Then again, I read a LOT. I can't readily recall a time prior to getting married when I wasn't reading two or more books -- often doing the whole "walking while reading" bit.

I read a lot, too, but could never quite manage the walking while reading thing. I can read in almost any stationary orientation, however. (Spatial orientation, I should clarify. :-)

Hee hee

It's a talent I developed in grade school.

I cannot, however, read while in a moving car or physically upside down (that is, with me upside down).

But I can read upside down (used to be able to do a cool trick and read two books aloud at once, flipping back and forth between lines, lol) and also read mirror writing (although that one has gotten more difficult) directly.

And I know I an do all of this because I sorta found myself in positions to have to learn it.

My ex decided that I needed to stop such tings -- seems kids have the same habit cats do, except they aren't as easy to move out of the way...

My mind is not given to being ‘boggled’ a lot but the courage of kids and children who come out at amazingly young ages leaves me in awe. But they don't always have a lot of support.

One way to get the word out to those who need it and defy the bigots is to invest a little in our future and buy one or two copies of books or DVDs aimed at LGBT youth and children. They're often cheaper on line. Used books are just fine but keep in mind that public libraries like hardbound books. You can drop them off as gifts at the public library or at the Center.

I try to do that whenever I have money left over from bullshit medicare copays. I always print up a little insert telling them they're not alone and providing contact numbers for the Center and local GSA/GLSENs.

As a former literature teacher, and current student of Library/Information Science school, I LOVE BANNED BOOK WEEK! I've never known a teacher nor a library to not seize banned book week as an opportunity to do some serious undermining and shaking stuff up! Even back in my Catholic School days, we had banned book week activities!

Thanks for publishing the map, Dana. It shows pretty clearly that censorship problems happen all over the country, not just in the Bible Belt.

Few parts of the country are as conservative as northern California. One of my favorite examples of extreme censorship happened in Mendocino County when I was living there in the late 1980s.
The local logging industry succeeding in having Dr. Seuss's THE LORAX banned from local grade-school classrooms. Why? Because they didn't want children reading a story about a little wizard who loves trees.