Since it’s Banned Books Week, we thought we’d write a fun post inspired by Epic Reads, a digital community created by HarperCollins to connect HarperTeen authors and books with readers. Epic Reads wrote a post this week called “27 Things That Should Be Banned Instead of Books.” If you have five minutes, it’s definitely worth reading.
To add to this list, we thought we’d give you 5 things we think should be banned instead of books, as related to the publishing industry.
When the book is so full of clichés you aren’t sure which book you’re reading. Also, when people pretend “judging a book by its cover” isn’t a thing. Tell me you haven’t put a book down because its cover was horrendous.
When you read the book once and the spine cracks.
When the title is so long you feel like you’ve already read the book.
When you’re too lazy to go to the bookstore, so you order from Amazon and the book arrives damaged. Yeah, cause we all want damaged books.
When you decide to edit the entire book, so you can read it front to back without having to stop and take a deep breath every fifteen seconds.
We’re halfway through Banned Books Week, an event that celebrates people’s right to read and reiterates the importance of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
According to the American Library Association, to challenge a book is to “attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.”
Books have been challenged/banned in the United States since the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852 when the anti-slavery novel was deemed inappropriate for popular consumption because of its pro-abolitionist message. (In case you missed it, Monday’s blog kicked off #BannedBooksWeek with a post on the woman who started it all: Harriet Beecher Stowe.)
The practice of book banning continued well into the 1920s after Anthony Comstock, then a well-known politician, helped push a law through Congress that banned “obscene literature” from being sent in the mail (his definition of “pornography” extended so far as to include Medieval works like The Canterbury Tales). Influential court cases, however, like The United States v. One Book Called Ulysses in 1933 and Roth vs. The United States in 1957, combined with the social revolutions of the 60s and 70s, made room in the market for books with strong language and depictions of sex and violence.
While some challenged titles may be not surprise you – E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey made the American Library Associations’ Top 10 Most Challenged Books List in 2015 – others may cause your eyebrows to lift. Charlotte’s Web, for example, by E.B. White, Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling, The Giving Tree, by Shell Silverstein, and Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, all faced parental pushback upon publication.
The Library of Congress has also put together a list of books that have been banned/challenged over the years that “have had a profound effect on American life.” In 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s beloved American classic, was deemed “trash and suitable only for the slums.” In the 60s, The Autobiography of Malcolm X , Truman Capote’sIn Cold Blood, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird faced similar vitriol.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki was the number one challenged title of 2016 because of its “LGBT characters, drug use and profanity,” and sexual content. The book went on to become a New York Times bestseller, a 2015 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2015 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and an Eisner Award Winner.
NYC’s Strand Bookstore has assembled a special table for banned books this week. Did your favorite make the list?
We Need Diverse Books is an organization that campaigns for the production of children’s literature that is more inclusive and embracing of diverse, non-majority characters.
WNDB is a non-profit grassroots group that describes themselves as being “committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.” WNDB advocates for “all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” WNDB’s mission is to give children the opportunity to see themselves in more books so that they may identify with characters, feel empowered and visible, and be more interested in reading.
Volunteering, donating, or attending any of the the WNDB programs helps to spread their vision. With it being Banned Books Week, and more than half the books highlighted on the banned book’s list being “by authors of color, or contain[ing] events and issues concerning diverse communities,” it’s a good time to help a cause that combats this and brings awareness to something that encourages making different voices more accessible to readers.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge
in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association.
The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage
various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.
This year, Banned Books Week is celebrating diversity.
In addition to our sponsors, Banned Books Week received generous support from Penguin Random House and DKT Liberty Project.
The 2016 celebration will be held September 25-October 1.
A series of events are held in honor of Banned Books week in libraries, bookstores and though online webinars (some can be found below). Follow these link to see some interesting events being held in New York City:
Sunday, September 25, at 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (doors open at 10:15am)
53rd Street Library
Join the New York Public Library in partnership with Sesame Workshop (the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street!) as we welcome the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, joined by his furry friend, Sesame Street’s Walkaround Grover, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Sesame Street classic storybook,The Monster at the End of this Book. Yang will read aloud this time-honored tale (first published in 1971 by Little Golden Books) and will discuss his ‘Reading Without Walls‘ initiative, which encourages readers to explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.
Sesame Street’s Walkaround Grover will greet attendees, followed by Yang’s read-aloud of The Monster at the End of this Book. Yang will then participate in a short Q&A and discussion about his ‘Reading Without Walls’ initiative. This event will conclude with a book signing by Yang and a photo opportunity with Walkaround Grover.
In the spirit of celebration, each attendee will receive their very own copy of The Monster at the End of this Book, courtesy of Random House Children’s Books.
Housing Works 126 Crosby Street New York, NY 10012
A reading and open mic celebrating inclusivity in literature, with banned, challenged, and disenfranchised voices. Join the sponsors of Banned Books Week for an inspring evening of readings celebrating the work of diverse writers and authors. Scheduled readers so far include Daniel José Older, Ibi Zoboi, Taran Matharu, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Mariela Regalado.
This year’s Banned Books Week – the annual celebration of the freedom to read – is focusing on diversity and will celebrate literature written by diverse writers, especially those that have been banned or challenged. It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities, according to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
What’s it like to be an author of a banned or challenged book? How do they respond and how can librarians support the freedom to read? In honor of Banned Books Week, three authors will address these questions and more during a free webinar. Moderated by Vicky Baker, Deputy Editor of Index on Censorship magazine, the webinar will include perspectives from:
-Jessica Herthel, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a co-author of I Am Jazz, a children’s picture book about a transgender girl.
-Christine Baldacchino, a former early childhood educator, and the author of the widely-acclaimed book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.
-Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, and author of The Hindus: An Alternative History; and On Hinduism, which portrays the history of Hinduism outside of mainstream perspectives.
Following the three presentations, there will be some time for Q&A. Register to attend the live webinar session.
Talented playwright Jarrett Dapier has offered his complete stage adaption of Chris Crutcher’s YA novel,The Sledding Hill to the Office for Intellectual Freedom in support of Banned Books Week. There are no limitations to reading, sharing, or printing Dapier’s play.