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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012 - September 30 to October 6

This year is the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of books that have been banned or challenged in some way. The lists of books banned or challenged in the US over the last several years is here  at the ALA web site if you'd like to take a look and if, perhaps, you want to take part in the virtual readout on YouTube , there's a link to the actual Banned Books Week web site where you can find instructions on what to do.

Some of you may remember that last year at this time I did a virtual readout from To Kill A Mockingbird. I haven't yet decided which beloved book I will choose this time, but this year I'm hoping to get students and perhaps even staff involved.

Our Year 10 students are currently reading The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon. They simply love it and those I talked to were shocked to hear it's a challenged book elsewhere in the world. Some have expressed interest in my project, which will involve filming them for a library DVD; as I am not allowed to put them up on the Net, they can do that themselves, with the files I will give them. Meanwhile, I've also spoken to some of the younger students. Brittany, Taylor and Paige are all keen to be involved, reading something from Twilight, The Hunger Games and Vampire Academy. Kim, a Year 7 student, has also asked if she can have a go. I am hoping to get some of my Year 8 class involved, but we will see who turns up on Thursday, my first chance to get out the camera for them. It will have to be finished by Friday, because Banned Books Week is on during term break and those who want to do the virtual readout will need to take the files home.

It's amazing what is on the lists of books that somebody, somewhere, has believed should come off the library shelves - often somebody who hasn't actually read it. Harry Potter's enemies, for example, are often people who haven't read the books. Classics such as Brave New World, To Kill A Mockingbird,  Huckleberry Finn are up there with books that probably aren't that wonderful but haven't been put there for being badly written, just for saying something that the objectors don't want said.

These books are banned or challenged in the US, but some have been banned here too, if on a small scale.  Harry Potter has enemies here, too, but I was once confronted by a teacher who objected to a fantasy novel whose cover featured one of those babes in a chain mail bikini. I agreed that the cover was woeful and the woman in the picture would be horribly uncomfortable,  but the novel itself  featured a woman warrior and it was rather absurd to object to it on the basis of "equal opportunity". And no, she hadn't read it.

My friend Natalie Prior's picture  book The Paw was banned in some schools because the heroine was a cat burglar and this implied that crime pays. The fact that she was a Robin Hood figure who robbed wealthy organisations to give to the poor was not of interest to the objectors. I like to think it led to more sales for the book.

At my own school, a mother objected to Tim Winton's Lockie Leonard, which was a class text, because the young hero, who was growing up like his readers, had a wet dream. Yet it's a wonderful book and one of our staff had a word with the mother, who was a reasonable person in general, and she withdrew her objection.

I will be putting a link up here to my own virtual readout when it's up on YouTube. Why not do your own and let me know? I will be pleased to add your link too.

Come on, let's celebrate our favourite books and give the finger to censorship!


miki said...

It's really sad to see such a long list while i think not all the books are for everyone ( normal it's depend on the maturity, age etc) i don't agree with the idea that someone can decide it a book must be shared or not . Reading a book is a personnal experience we can need a book at one time of our life and the same book can be out of our shelves permanetly at a later time but it's something personnal!

Sue Bursztynski said...

I quite agree. Miki!

Sandy Fussell said...

Wonderful image - all us book types lining up to give the finger to banning books. I wish I was a cartoonist...

Sue Bursztynski said...

And I will use the idea, first Monday back, for our film, Sandy, but it won't be able to go on YouTube, alas. Illegal, due to the kids being underage. Let me know if you do draw it, though, and I'll post it here. ;-)