Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Saturday, September 25, sees the kickoff of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. The website of the American Library Association, which originated the annual observance, says, “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, [which] stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.”

Most of the books spotlighted during Banned Books Week have been the subject of challenges about their inclusion in school or public library collections, or on students’ assigned reading lists. Books that have been challenged or removed include The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Twilight series, Huckleberry Finn, Gone with the Wind, the Goosebumps series, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, A Wrinkle in Time, and probably some of your favorites (I know some of mine are in the list above.)

Why is it important to talk about this? I think it’s because we are reminded that if you or I can ban a book someone else likes, then it’s entirely possible that a book we find important can be banned as well. Part of the price of an open conversation is that sometimes we might hear something we don’t like.

If you’re interested in continuing the conversation about what we read, join us on Thursday, September 30, at 7:00 p.m. in the Central Library Auditorium, 600 Soledad, when Dotty Griffith, ACLU of Texas Public Education Director, will discuss the Banned Books report for this year. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, she will also reflect on the book’s significance for us today.

What books would you want to protect? Drop us a line and let us know.

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