Banned Books Week 2015

Isaac Asimov once said that “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading”. And here at Christchurch City Libraries we like to give readers the choice!

Cover of The LoraxDid you know that before being green was in, Dr Seuss’ The Lorax was banned? Yep, you read that right… The Lorax!!! It was banned in 1989 because it portrayed the forestry industry in a bad light.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden rise in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries in the United States, and more than 11,300 books have been challenged since.

You might be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand, being such a freedom loving country, would reject the idea of censorship of any kind, but there have been several instances of it through the decades. You can see some of them here: Banned Books in New Zealand.

Cover of Into The RiverThe latest book that has been challenged has become a cause célèbre. I’m talking of course about the young adult novel Into the River by Ted Dawe, which has been classified three times and is now under an ‘interim restriction order‘. If you would like to know what this actually means, our editor Donna has written an insightful post: Into the River – what is this banning all about?

This year Banned Books Week will run from 27 September to 3 October, and aptly the focus is Young Adult books.

The following are the 10 books most challenged in 2014 according to the American Library Association.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”.
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”.
  3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”.
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”.
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal (aka Let’s Talk About Sex) by Robie Harris
    Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”.
  6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Reasons: Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”.
  9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: sexually explicit.

“You want weapons? We are in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room is the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself.”  – The Doctor.

Cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Cover of Persepolis Cover of Tango Cover of The Bluest Eye Cover of It's Perfectly Normal Cover of Saga Cover of The Kite Runner Cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower Cover of A Stolen Life Cover of Drama

We have all these titles and plenty more challenged books in our catalogue if you dare to read them. Do you agree with censoring books for their content?

Do you read banned books?

One of the most banned booksThis week is Banned Books Week in America, but we thought we would celebrate too.  Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read whatever, whenever and wherever we choose, and draws attention to the harms of censorship.  The reasons for censorship are many and varied, and when you look at some of the reasons why books have been banned (particularly in America), it seems ridiculous. 

 

 Here are just some of the fantastic children’s books that have been banned or challenged for ridiculous reasons:

1. Witches by Roald Dahl – gives children a false idea about how the world works and it has a negative portrayal of women.

2. The Captain Underpants series by Dave Pilkey – encourages children to disobey authority.

3. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak – objections to nudity (some librarians have even drawn pants on Mickey).

4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – gives negative views of life and promotes witchcraft.

5. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein – includes poems about disobeying children, dying children and there is a presence of supernatural forces in the poetry.

We have a display in the Centre for the Child in Central Library of some books that have been banned or challenged so come in and take one home.  You can also have a look at the list of the top 100 banned or challenged books between 1990 and 2000.  Be warned though – these books could be bad for your health so read them at your own risk!