Banned Books Week

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Banned Books Week starts Sunday September 25th 2016 and runs all the way through October 1st 2016. Banned Book Week was started to celebrate the freedom of reading.

The St. Paul Public library and the Metro State library will be hosting a banned author book signing on Saturday October 1st from 3-5 pm.  Noted local authors including Pete Hautman, Phyllis root, and Marion Dane Bauer will sign copies of their books that have at one time been challenged or banned.  Authors will also answer questions about their experiences with censorship.  Their books will also be available for purchase.

These are their books.

Pete Hautman wrote Godless, a young adult novel in which the main character invents his own religion after becoming frustrated with his fathers Catholicism.  The book was removed from summer reading lists at Oxford  High School in Mississippi after complaints about the books perceived anti-religious themes.

The book Big Momma Makes the World by Phyillis Root was challenged in 2013 by North Elementary School in Longview Texas.  The book was deemed offensive to religious sensitivities and end ended up being restricted.

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is the only book out of these three that was challenged and retained.  In Iowa it was challenged due to profanity and vulgarity.  In Pennsylvania parents disliked its “depressing” subject matter.

In addition to these three books,  at least 11,300 others have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. (ALA)  Here are some of the most popular books that have been challenged over the years.

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One of the most well-written books, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is centered around racism based in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama.

The Lord of the Rings, a fictional book, was banned because of its fantastical adventures, and what the book stood for. Even if this book did not mention God or any other religious beliefs it struck controversy.

One of the most popular contemporary series, Harry Potter, was banned due to the fact that it was based on witchcraft. The rule-breaking children in the series setting a bad example for the children who read these books was a concern as well. These books were banned not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom.

Beloved, written by Toni Morrison, was one of the few books banned because of the sexual content in the book, violence, etc. This powerful novel was based on the true story of a real slave who had to make a life or death decision.

Many of the books that people challenged were considered offensive in one way or another.  The ALA states that “Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from ‘inappropriate’ sexual content or ‘offensive’ language.”  The top reasons listed for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom are as follows:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

For more information about banned books check out the Banned and Challenged Books section of the ALA website.

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