professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Defining Irony

Banned Books Week begins tomorrow, September 22, 2013. You can read about the history of Banned Books Week and much more at the ALA web site here: Explore this site as it is a treasure trove of information including this list of most challenged books from 2012:

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Yes, you read that list correctly. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS tops the list as "unsuited for age group," something that I cannot imagine being further from the truth. Ironic, right?

Even more ironic, though, might be that challenges seem to escalate right around Banned Books Week. Here are just two that have crossed my desktop recently.

Rainbow Rowell and Meg Medina were dis-invited from speaking during Banned Books Week because a small but vocal group objected to the books. SLJ reports the incident here:

Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN has been pulled from library shelves following parent complaint despite the fact that the committees at the schools voted to retain the book.

ReLeah Lent, chair of the NCTE Standing Committee Against Censorship and author of two books on censorship, and I did a radio interview for NCTE on the topic of Banned Books Week. That archive is here: Tomorrow evening marks the first Twitter chat hosted by NCTE to kick off Banned Books Week. Laurie Halse Anderson and July Blume will be there (and so will I). Use the hashtag: #nctechat and be there at 8 pm EST.

A few years go, two of my colleagues pushed back at attempts to remove books from shelves with the SpeakLoudly campaign. I continue to use this "slogan" because it is the ONLY way we can combat the challenges and bannings, most of which go unreported. So much passive banning, gatekeeping, also occurs. That is why I will SpeakLoudly about ANY incident. If I concede a fight over CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, how can I then stand up for another book? As ReLeah said during the radio boradcast, even one complaint is too many.

Alfie Kohn wrote a fabulous column this week on being courageous as educators. Especially during Banned Books Week, we need to stand up, to SpeakLoudly, to defend the right to read (FREADOM), to fight to make sure kids have CHOICE and that we do as well.
Tags: censorship
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