September 25 – October 1 2016 is Banned Books Week.
Books are challenged and banned in countries around the world every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), a challenge is defined as “as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.”
Who is making these challenges and why do the books get banned? Have a look at the ALA’s graphic on 2014 challenges. What books are being banned for inappropriateness? Hold on, it’s a shocker.
Diverse books are most often banned.
Books by people of color and books that deal with issues on race and sexuality, specifically homosexuality, top the list.
In their press release, the ALA stated that their Office of Intellectual Freedom analyzed complaints about books from 2001 to 2013 and found that “attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.”
Some of my favorite books have been or are on the Banned Books List. Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou frequently have their books challenged. Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Song of Solomon. Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Even Alice Walker’s The Color Purple has been removed from bookstores and even libraries, preventing people who may not have the resources to purchase books from experiencing these powerful novels.
The Office for Intellectual Freedom puts together a list of Top Ten most challenged books each year. 2016’s list is here. I celebrate Banned Books Week every year by picking up something that was at one time considered not appropriate for my consumption.
Have a look at this YouTube video from April of this year on book censorship and get yourself one of these inappropriate books. You’ll thank me.