Putting banned books on the reading list

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Banned Books Week 2014 provides the material for another chapter in the campaign against censorship.

The week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers — and the civil rights community to celebrate the freedom to read and to challenge efforts to restrict access to books.

Banned Books Week is observed Sept. 21–27 with films, lectures, seminars, contests, protests and, perhaps most importantly, the reading of banned or challenged books. One such “reading of banned books,” presented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, takes place at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. Center St., Milwaukee. Other events in Wisconsin were being planned as WiG went to press.

Additionally, readers can participate in a virtual read-out by posting videos to the Banned Books Week channel on YouTube.

Wondering what to read?

• The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression tracked challenges to more than 300 books in the past year. The most recent was an effort to stop students involved in a summer reading program at a high school in Pensacola, Florida, from reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, a New York Times best-seller and finalist for the Hugo Award for best novel. It’s a story about four teenagers who defend themselves against the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco.

• Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom records hundreds of attempts by individuals and groups to remove books from library shelves or classrooms. Some of the most challenged classics: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, George Orwell’s 1984 and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

• The most challenged authors of the century include Ellen Hopkins, Aldous Huxley, Harper Lee, Peter Parnell, Robert Cormier, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Katherine Paterson, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Judy Blume. Five of Blume’s books are on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999: Forever, Blubber, Tiger Eyes, Deenie and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

ON THE WEB

Banned Books Week: www.bannedbooksweek.org

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