Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | September 18, 2013

Banned Book Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. This year, Banned Book Week is from September 22-28, 2013.  It highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.   First observed in 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take the freedom to read for granted.  Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom has received reports of 9,500 attempts to remove books deemed by some as inappropriate.

Special Collections Research Center has Ralph E. McCoy’s personal collection of material related to First Amendment Freedoms. This collection traces the intellectual history of the concept of freedom of expression in the United Kingdom and the USA from 1600 to the present. The McCoy Collection is perhaps the most rich and diverse research collection of printed materials in SCRC. Freedom of expression has been developed and debated in many arenas in the Western world, and the materials in the McCoy Collection document such varied topics as the Popish Plot of 1678, Victoria Woodhull’s advocacy of women’s suffrage and “free love,” and the legal controversy over the “obscene” nature of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

ImageFor 2012, the top 10 Challenged Books out of 464 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
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