Monday, September 27, 2010

4 Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books week! Normally I never manage to figure out when these things are, but this year but some dumb trick of luck I noticed-- and it's partly because I'm still running on fumes of red fury over Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Speak, being grossly misrepresented and slandered by a professor.

So, join me. Banned Books Week is September 25 - October 2, 2010. Here are four simple suggestions for celebrating.

1. Blog about it. And get a very handy and swanky badge for your blog (see mine over there to the right? See? It has classed up the blog, I tell you).

2. Read the books on the list. Not just this year's list either, but previous years, too. Don't be restricting my access to books, Man! (Or whoever tries). I'm going to read them anyway!

3. Think about the reasons behind each attempt or success at banning. The ALA has a PDF download of 2009's banned or challenged books, with explanations of who and why challenged them to give you more background. On the list is Hitler's Mein Kamf. It has been banned because there is fear it will "fuel support for far-right groups. The Bavarian
authorities reaffirmed a sixty-four-year-old ban on the book after the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History, or IFZ, applied for permission to reprint the work." Do you agree with that? I can't really agree with the banning in principle, because it's banning, and yet--the book and its author are odious. But where is the line in getting rid of damaging or inciting material? Is there even a line? How do you feel about that? (Tell me in the comments!)

4. Support organizations that promote the right to read. Such as the The Freedom to Read Foundation or The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund or The American Civil Liberties Union.

Have any other suggestions?


Roni Loren said...

Great ideas, Sierra! There is also a blog event on Thursday where people are reviewing their favorite banned books. You can sign up here:

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Well, obviously, banning Mein Kampf in Bavaria is somewhat of a special case. That being said, Hitler would still have been Hitler without that book. Even in the most extreme of cases, it is very hard to argue that banning a book achieves whatever people are trying to achieve by banning it. If no one can read it, no one can see how odious it truly is. And it is hard for me to believe that Mein Kampf is somehow more dangerous than all that footage of Nazi rallies and speeches that anyone can find on youtube.

Posey said...


KLM said...

I was amazed to see that one of my favorite books -- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie -- was on a banned book list this past year (in CA, I think). That book is so wonderful, so full of heart and funny as hell. The reason? The usual, I guess. Bad language etc. Oh, and numerous references to masturbation. Because, you know, teenage guys wouldn't think of that on their own unless they read about it in a book.

Demery said...

Hi Sierra - thank you for such good thoughts and suggestions! Lots to think about here. I agree that Mein Kampf is an extreme example - and that there are going to be extreme examples for any argument. The truth is most banned books wouldn't come near the line (if there is one) of Mein Kampf... most are written (as is Speak) to give voice to topics, fears, experiences that leave people feeling lost and isolated. Good for you for speaking out. Rock on sister!

adam.purple said...

I was a senior in high school when some cretin, from out of state, no less, heard that we were reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. He made it his mission to get the book banned from our school.

As a class, we invited him to attend our class for a discussion. He was actually brave enough to admit he had never even read the book.

And One Day is still on my list of all-time favorites.

Thank you for this post, and for celebrating the cause.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for the support!

Good points made by the Lt and Demery, and KLM I am totes going to read that Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian right away.

Adam, thanks for commenting and you left us hanging! Did you convince the rude guy? What happened after he visited your class?

Linda Leszczuk said...

I posted a link to this blog on mine.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Adam - Banning Solzhenitsyn??? I would love to hear the rationale for that. You say the guy was from out of state, so where was he from: Moscow? Geez.

adam.purple said...

He was from Rhode Island (I was in Massachusetts at the time). He objected to the swearing and harsh language. It was quite stunning when he admitted he hadn't read the book, but we were not able to impact his thinking. There was a brief article in the local paper, and then things went back to normal.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Sorry to hear that, Adam. Good thing we remember it now. I'm going to stick it that guy's memory and efforts of years ago and go read that book.

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