Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 12:27 PM

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When you think of banned books, images of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth and Bradbury’s fiery piles flash through your mind. But book banning is not a fictional dystopian nightmare, nor is it a thing of the past. According to the American Library Association, 513 books were challenged, restricted, removed or banned in 2008 alone—and that doesn’t take into account the 70 to 80 percent of cases that aren’t reported. Challengers cited reasons spanning the gamut from excessive sexuality to violence to profanity to racism, and in many cases, they were successful at getting the titles restricted or removed from shelves all together.

Some classic books that were challenged last year in middle schools and high schools across the country include: John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In addition, more recently published works like Stephen Chbosky’s grunge-era coming of age tale The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Augusten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors and the entire Harry Potter series were up for banishment. Nampa even made the ALA’s Banned Books list for relocating the The New Joy of Sex to the director’s office because people claimed it was “very pornographic in nature” and had “very explicit and detailed illustrations and photographs.”

To draw attention to these First Amendment violations, libraries across the country are hosting events to celebrate Banned Books Week, which runs Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. This Thursday, Oct. 1, the Boise Public Library is teaming up with the ACLU of Idaho and Boise High and Boise State theater students to read selections from banned books from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the main library’s Hayes Auditorium. Local attorney Michael Bartlett will also speak about First Amendment rights and civil liberties.

For more information about Banned Books Week, call 208-384-4076 or visit boisepubliclibrary.org.

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