Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week starts today! This week is meant to celebrate the freedom to read but also to challenge censorship. They also had an online contest where people could vote for their favourite banned book of the year. The winner was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This event actually first started in 1982 and sees more libraries and literary organizations join in every year. According to Jodie Ginsberg, a partner of the event, believes this event is more relevant than ever, to ensure that book trade has a bright future. She said in an interview:

“Many book events focus on a particular genre. Banned Books Week aims to draw attention to the stories that aren’t being told and why. It also offers a historical and international perspective – I think we can learn a lot by seeing what ideas and topics people considered unacceptable even 20 years ago and what subjects are taboo elsewhere today. That helps us to see the value of reading outside our own comfort zones, and in making sure we champion different voices.”

Of the 483 books that were challenged or banned in 2018, these are the Top 11 Most Challenged:

And here are some interesting numbers and statistics about banned books:

  • 416 books banned or challenged in 2017
  • 80% of 2017’s most commonly challenged books tell stories of people from marginalized groups
  • 56% of challenges take place in public libraries
  • 25% of challenges take place in school libraries, curricula and classrooms

And finally, here is a list of the top 10 most banned books in America:

  • The entire Harry Potter series: because they are said encourage witchcraft or bad behaviour.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: challenged for offensive language, racism and unsuited to the age group it is meant for.
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret: it has been dubbed sexual, amoral and anti-Christian because the main character deals with religious issues and her concerns over menstruation.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: it was banned in the day because of the crude humor and realism. Now it’s often challenged because of the frequent racial slurs and stereotypical depictions of certain character.
  • The Goosebump series: these spooky children’s stories were challenged in the nineties because of the supernatural elements and scary tone.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Maya Angelou‘s autobiography has been banned because it’s sexually explicit, it references homosexuality and includes racist language.
  • Bridge to Terabithia: this children’s story has been challenged because of offensive language, violence, Satanism (somehow?) and even the promotion of secular humanism.
  • Brave New World: this dystopian novel is challenged because of the way it depicts drug use and sex, because it makes promiscuous sex look like fun – according to some school districts.
  • It’s Perfectly Normal: this book on sex, puberty and relationships is challenged because it was deemed appropriate for young children. Because of the cartoon illustrations, it has been called pornographic.
  • Of Mice and Men: because of its use of profanity, using the Lord’s name in vain, sexual themes, racism and depression this book is often challenged and put on banned books lists.

Have you read any of these banned books? I’ve read four of them so far, some others are on my list! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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