September 29 – October 3 is the 26th annual celebration of Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. Started in 1982, Banned Books Week was started as a response to more and more books being challenged across the country. Since then, more than 1,000 books have been challenged.
As a book-lover, it’s easy to balk at the idea of banning books. It just seems wrong to ask someone to remove a book from a library, not sell a book in a certain book store, or prevent others from reading a book because they disagree with the content. The challenge comes when you’re asked to defend something you disagree with — when it becomes personal, that’s when you really have to stand up for your principals.
I was going to include a sort of soap box about the importance of protecting the First Amendment, but news I first read at GalleyCat this week gave a much more interesting example.
Last week Martin Rynja, publisher of a press in UK, has his home/home office firebombed in what is now being called a terrorist attack. Why? Because his press is publishing The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, a novel about one of the wives of the Muslim prophet Muhammed, A’isha. Earlier, an Islamic studies professor warned the publisher the book might incite violence and called the book “soft core pornography.”
I’m not sure much more than those few details, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the bombing didn’t just happen for no reason. Although it feels like we live in a time when book banning and attacks to incite fear of this sort shouldn’t happen, here is evidence that it still does. This isn’t book banning as we normally thing about it, but it’s along the same line — trying to prevent people from accessing information if they want to get it based on fear or threats. To me, that’s the crux of book banning and why it’s so important not to let it happen. Anyway, I’m going to try to follow the story and will link to other articles if I find them.
Ok, end of soapbox. There were more than 400 books challenged in 2007, but it takes a special kind of book to make the top 10. Without further ado, here’s the list!
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell (Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group)
- The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence)
- Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language)
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Religious Viewpoint)
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Racism)
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language)
- TTYL by Lauren Myracle (Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Sexually Explicit)
- It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris (Sex Education, Sexually Explicit)
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group)