Every year I do something to celebrate Banned Books Week in late September. Usually this means some combination of blogging about it and reading a book (or books) on the list of challenged books. They always release a list of the top 10 challenged books during the previous year, and sometimes I choose one of the books off of that list to read. If none of them interest me, or if I have already read all the ones that do (which does sometimes happen), I will alternatively choose a book off of the list of frequently challenged classics.
This year, Banned Books Week is a little extra special: It's the week's 30th anniversary! To celebrate the anniversary there is to be a 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week, which apparently consists of each state creating short videos demonstrating how they encourage people to exercise their freedom to read.
Looking over the list of the top challenged books from 2011, I am more than a little surprised to see To Kill a Mockingbird on it yet again. Why are we still contesting this book?! And Brave New World, also -- why do a couple of classics make it on here every year?
Interestingly, Twilight is not on the list this year -- because it's old hat, I suppose. The same thing happened with Harry Potter -- the first few years of the series, it was challenged quite a bit, and then I suppose people stopped bothering.
One of the books on the list for 2011 (and 2010 too, actually) is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I read this book several years ago, and was very surprised when it started popping up on the top challenged books list. It always boggles my mind when books like this one (and To Kill a Mockingbird too) are banned for "racism." Well, the books really aren't promoting racism, since they are about overcoming racism, so how do you figure that's worthy of challenging? Or perhaps you don't want your kids to grow up thinking racism is something they can (or should) challenge?
Things like this are why I always do something to celebrate Banned Books Week: Spread the word, read one (or more) of the books that have been contested, or some combination thereof. Books are an important part of our culture, and it often seems like the ones that get challenged are the more important works. I firmly believe in the rights of people -- kids included -- to read what they want. Hopefully, the fact that we as a society still celebrate that freedom with Banned Books Week will ensure that this freedom is never taken away from us!