I Read Banned Books

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week. All images reprinted by permission of the American Library Association.

It is Banned Books Week again! A time to celebrate your freedom to read anything you want.

Banned Books Week was started in 1982 in response to a surge in challenges to books in libraries, schools and book stores.

What is a challenge? — A challenge is when an individual or a group seeks to remove or restrict access to material.

What is a ban? A ban means that the material has been removed or has access to it restricted.

Why are books challenged? Books are challenged for a variety of reasons. The most common are “sexually explicit language,” “offensive language” and “materials unsuited to any age group.”

11,300 books have been challenged since 1982.

326 challenges were reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2011. It is estimated that as many as 70-80% of challenges go unreported.

The good news is that most challenges fail and material remains accessible. This is because teachers, librarians, administrators and others work hard to protect everyone’s freedom to read. Most challenges occur at schools, school libraries and public libraries, but challenges do occur in college and university libraries.

Banned Books Week is a reminder to celebrate our freedom to read anything we want and to cherish that freedom.

My favorite banned or challenged book is Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. It has been challenged many times on the grounds of occultism, offensive language and violence. I remember getting lost in the this book as a child. The imaginations of the characters and the worlds they created just drew me into the story. It was probably also the first book that I read that didn’t have a happy ending. That made a real impact on me; the world doesn’t always have happy endings.

So, do you have a favorite banned or challenged book? Check out the most frequently challenged books of 2011 or the 100 most frequently challenged or banned books from 2000 to 2009 for titles.

Tell us about your favorite banned or challenged book in the reply box below.

Information on this page has been gathered from www.bannedbooksweek.org and www.ala.org/advocacy/banned.

One thought on “I Read Banned Books

  1. Doug Lehman

    My favorite book on the list of challenged and banned books is J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic, “The Lord of the Rings”.

    I came to this a little later than some. I did not discover it in high school or college, but rather a year or so after I graduated from college. I read “The Hobbit” first and that let to “The Lord of the Rings”. Of course, there was no banned book list or Banned Book Week at the time, so I had no idea I was reading such a controversial book. It was just a great story and I got immersed in the world of Middle-Earth.

    To be able to create an entire mythology with a history covering thousands of years, a variety of races and locations and tales of great battles really caught my attention and I am still a fan of Tolkien’s work, even beyond the Lord of the Rings. I never did learn to speak Elvish, though.

    Some years later the Lord of the Rings played another role in my life when we it came time to name my daughter. After much thought we named her Arwen, after the Elvish princess in Tolkien’s novel. She now thinks it is a great name (she wasn’t always so sure about that).

    Doug Lehman


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