Monday, October 1, 2007

It's Banned Books Week - Sept. 29 - Oct. 6

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”—Benjamin Franklin

People who were aware of this idea made the United States put the following into its Constitution:

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.”—
First Amendment

The American Library Association and several other organizations annually celebrate Banned Books Week to remind people to keep speech free. Books have been banned by states, cities, and schools, which have offended the expected thought patterns of political, religious, and other institutions and sometimes the United States has joined them. Usually, however, thoughtful courts have reversed such bans but the balance is ever precarious.

As long as there have been public libraries in America there have been challenges to which books can be held in the library of any particular jurisdiction and which will not be there for people to read. Each year, the American Library Association records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to have books removed from libraries shelves and from classrooms.

The 10 most challenged books of the 21st Century (2000-2005) are:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
7. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
10. Forever by Judy Blume

Top 100 Banned or Challenged Novels of the 20th Century (alphabetical by author):

It isn't only children's books that are deemed unworthy of public reading. According to ALA, at least 42 of the top 100 novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts:

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Ulysses, James Joyce

A Separate Peace, John Knowles

Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence

Women in Love, DH Lawrence

The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov

1984, George Orwell

Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

Rabbit, Run, John Updike

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

Native Son, Richard Wright

“Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.”—Alfred Whitney Griswold, "Essays on Education"

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