Exercise your right to read!

September 27 through October 3 is Banned Books Week, a yearly event sponsored by the American Library Association to call attention to the still ongoing effort in some quarters to censor our reading material.

These days, it seems that the main push to ban books comes through school libraries, usually middle school libraries. Parents and/or teachers express concerns about allowing children access to certain ideas. Usually, these are ideas with which the adults disagree but there is really no evidence that they would damage young minds.

A major objection to books in recent years, for example, are those which depict gay marriage or other non-traditional family situations. There are also sometimes objections to having women characters who are strong and independent and pursue "unfeminine" professions.

This is a list of the ten most challenged books during the past year and the reasons for their being challenged:
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, anti-family, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence, depiction of bullying. 
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, graphic depictions.
  3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: Homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, homosexuality, unsuited for age group, "promotes the homosexual agenda."
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, "contains controversial issues."
  5. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.
  6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Offensive language, violence, and unsuited for age group.
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky: Homosexuality, sexuality explicit, offensive language, "date rape and masturbation," drugs/alcohol/smoking.
  9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit.
  10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier: Sexually explicit.
These books join an honor roll of books from our history that have actually been banned when first published, including The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Ulysses, Beloved, The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Lolita, just to name a few.

So, exercise your right to read this week, maybe by reading one of these "banned" books. Most importantly, don't ever let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't read or enjoy reading.


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