August 15, 2011
Banned Books Week takes place September 24-October 1 this year. Banned Book Week is an annual opportunity to discuss intellectual freedom and the guarantee of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that states
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In the age of Social Media it seems easier than ever for individuals to pressure schools to take certain materials off the shelves of their libraries and out of their curriculum. Teen author Chris Crutcher has written on his blog about several examples of his materials being challenged.
Banned Books Week is a fantastic opportunity to discuss with your students about the ramifications of censorship. Why are certain books targeted? Who should determine what writings students have the opportunity to read? Why do we so frequently allow the loudest voices to win the argument?
The American Library Association say on it’s Banned Books Week web page:
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
Check out the resources, discussion ideas, and lists of banned books on the ALA website. Perhaps you will want to join the discussion or create a display in your library to get your patrons thinking about this topic.