Banned Book Week
Celebrate the freedom to read!
Banned Book Week--September 22-26, 2014
What does Banned Book Week mean?
Banned Book Week is promoted by the American Library Association to remind everyone of the American citizen's "right to read". We have the freedom to read and the freedom to express ourselves, even if our views may be unpopular. This right is guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The freedom to read widely combined with a society in which censorship is against the law insures that many different viewpoints will always be available .
What does it mean when a book is "banned"?
Before a book is banned, it has to be challenged. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict a book for others to read. The intentions of the group or person bringing the challenge is typically to protect children from difficult or uncomfortable ideas.
When a book is challenged, librarians, teachers, and other concerned citizens do what they can to protect everyone's right to read. A book is banned when it is removed from the shelves of school or public libraries or bookstores.
Why are books challenged?
Books are challenged for 3 main reasons:
1. Material is "sexually explicit"
2. Material contains "offensive language"
3. Material is considered "unsuited to any age group"
In addition to these reasons, books are challenged because of violence, homosexuality, the occult, or they are considered "anti-family".
Parents bring the greatest numbers of challenges, but other groups do as well: religious and political organizations chief among them.
How many books are challenged?
Between 2000-2009, 5,009 challenges were brought. Of those, 1,639 were to school libraries, 1,811 to classroom materials ,and 1,217 were brought to public libraries. These numbers represent reported challenges submitted to the American Library Association. For every 1 reported, it is estimated that 4-5 are not.
Although people who challenge books are expressing their rights, the American Library Association maintains that:
“Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.”
Censorship, the freedom to read, and the Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court has defended and interpreted the Constitution to protect the right to read over the years in several historic cases:
Schenck v United States (1919)
Todd v Rochester Community Schools (1972)
Minarcini v Strongsville (Ohio) City School District(1976)
Sund v City of Witchita Falls, Texas (2000)
Counts v Cedarville School District (2003)
Banned Book Activities at Taconic Hills
Here is a list of of Frequently challenged Books