Sep 28, 2010


Saturday marked the start of Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the First Amendment and the freedom to read. For the uninitiated, Banned Books Week is a time when we reflect upon challenges to the First Amendment and triumphs of freedom of expression.

If banned books sound like something from the days of witch hunts, you'd be wrong. The American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks books that have been "challenged," often by a well-meaning parent, to be removed from a public or school library. Books as recent the Gossip Girls  series and Twilight have been on "challenged" lists in recent years. Thankfully, most challenges are unsuccessful.

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning?

A challenge is an 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.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Challenging and Banning books is not only un-American, it threatens your rights as well, because someone else is dictating what books you have access to based on their value judgments. To learn more about book challenges and band, click HERE.

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