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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Banned Books Week

Here's a little thing to know about me. I am a bit of a bit of a raging liberal when it comes to censorship. My answer is always no. Just, no. So I am a huge supporter of the American Library Association & their Office for Intellectual Freedom, and their yearly celebration and recognition of censored material, Banned Books Week.

A few years ago, I started a banned books readathon at the local community college where I worked as a tutor. It was a 24 hour marathon, which at a small community college means it was 12 hours on two days. Though there were other people with me, not all were as eager to read aloud certain things (teh masturbation letter in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for instance); I, however, reveled in it (the reactions were priceless), and my voice was generally hoarse and nearly non-existent at the end of the two days.

Today kicks off this year's Banned Books Week, so I would like to share with you the top ten most banned and challenge books of this past year, based on those reported to the ALA. Once again, no big surprise, the non-fiction children's book And Tango Makes Three tops the list.
Drumroll, please...

The 10 most challenged titles were:

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
  • Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint,
    and unsuited to age group [anti-ehtnic? Did they read the same book I did?]
His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
  • Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
  • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  • Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint,
    sexually explicit, and violence [This title, by the way, is on the list of titles chosen for The National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read]
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
  • Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually
    explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age
Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
  • Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
  • Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

So, I would strongly encourage you all to go and show your support of some of these fine books, or others that have made the list in the past. Some of the best books of our time or of all time (The Bluest Eye, Beloved, The Satanic Verses, To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Light in the Attic, Where's Waldo!) have been banned and challenged. Check out this list of titles and the crazy reasons they've been banned, or this list of the ALA's 100 most frequently banned books.

Whether you like these books or hate them, remember that's your decision to make for yourself, but it's NOT your decision to make for me.

Want to show your support? Join me in Ban This! Book Bloggers for Book Smarts in the Rally Against Stoopid! and blog about your favorite banned books today!


  1. I remember when I found out what And Tango Makes Three was all about. I thought it would be some edgy YA novel about racism or incest or occultism. Imagine my surprise. How is a story about a loving family "anti-family"? I don't get it...

    I actually haven't read many of these, except for The Golden Compass. I don't remember it being particularly violent, but I read it a long time ago. Surely it can't be as offensive as some of the scenes in Breaking Dawn... but I guess because it's also considered "anti-religion", it's going to get more flack than a series that's about vampires with Mormon values. :)

    Wait... I just read over your post again. Where's Waldo? Are you serious?

  2. I always thought the TTYL series by Lauren Myracle was revolutionary in a way. Great books always represent something about the time in which they are written...What a great series to represent the transition into the digital age.

  3. I think it's hilarious that by creating so much controversy about books they dislike the people who wish to ban these books keep them in the spotlight and selling year after year.
    I bet the authors of 'And Tango Makes Three' think having their book continually on the banned list is the best marketing ploy ever.
    Maureen www.thepizzagang.com

  4. I think you're absolutely right, Maureen.

  5. I'm just a raging liberal in general, so I love banned book week! I can't believe Scary Stories was banned! I LOVED those books as a kid. I don't get the mentality behind the people wanting books to be banned. If you don't like it, don't read it.

  6. Great post, Misty. I'm enjoying all the Banned Books Week stuff around. Where's Waldo though?!

  7. Lauren: Apparently, in Where's Waldo, there is a scene on a beach where a woman is topless. You only see her from the back, mind, but there is no bikini strap on that back, and therefore, it is lewd. Yeah.

    Logan: My friend read TTYL aloud one year. Or tried to. Listening to someone try to read an entire book of text-talk was interesting, to say the least.

    La Coccinelle: It bothers me that Tango gets banned for a number of reasons: 1) The idea of banning anything because homosexuality is somehow touched on is absurd to me. No one is making you read it, and you can't "catch" gay, especially THROUGH A BOOK. 2) The idea that people don't want children to have any model for a family other than the increasingly rare one of two happy, healthy, middle class parents is bizarre. There are lots of families, and every kid deserves to have theirs represented in some way. There ARE gay families with kids. Deal with it. 3)The only thing that really hints at "gay' is the line "Tango is special, she has two daddies," or something to that effect. What is so bad about that? 4) It's nonfiction. NONFICTION. It happened. There's nothing you can do about it. These penguins exist, you can go visit them in the Central Park Zoo. Deal with it.

    Oh, people bother me.
    I'm surprised there hasn't been an assassination attempt on the poor little penguins. I kid, but seriously...


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