Well, it’s that time of year again: welcome to Banned Books Week 2017. For those who don’t know what Banned Books Week is, you can learn more on this blog and you can find more official information on the American Library Association’s website.
It has been well documented that I am an advocate for banned books. I’ve shared some of my favourite banned books, and written about the importance of access to books through schools and libraries. I have written, at length, about the importance of keeping “banned” stories available to our youth.
Censorship drives me up the fucking wall. Oh no, I said fuck. I guess some people would like to censor this blog post, too.
Most Challenged Books in 2016
Last year’s list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books comes to us from the American Library Association:
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and is sexually explicit with mature themes.
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit, an offensive political viewpoint.
- George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”
- I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: Portrays a transgender child, language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.
- Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Reasons: Cover has an image of two boys kissing, includes sexually explicit LGBT content.
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reasons: Sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”
- Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
Reasons: Sexually explicit.
- Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
Reasons: Profanity, sexual explicitness, and “disgusting and all around offensive.”
- Little Bill (series) by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
Reasons: Criminal sexual allegations against the author.
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Reasons: Offensive language.
First of all, can we just remark on the hilarity of some of the reasons for these books being banned? Includes LGBT characters, an offensive political viewpoint, includes a transgender child, may lead a student to “sexual experimentation,” “disgusting and all around offensive.”
I felt the number of times homosexuality was referenced speaks for itself.
Can you imagine? Some stiff old buggers have complained to the ALA because they felt a book “may lead a student to sexual experimentation” and somehow that’s bad. To think that people have gone out of their way to have a book banned because it “portrays an LGBT character” is comical.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T READ IT. Isn’t that enough?
For Banned Books Week 2017, I encourage everyone to read what they want to. Don’t feel pressure to stay away from “banned” stories because they’re taboo, and don’t feel pressure to read them because we’re all advocating for them. Read what you want to, and what you’re comfortable with.
Only you can decide where to draw your own line. Don’t let someone else do that for you.
How are you celebrating Banned Books Week this year? Please share in the comments!
Author: Bree Crowder
Bree Crowder is a writer and editor with interest in fiction (MG, YA, and fantasy), and lifestyle. Writing, reading, photography, and travel are a few of her favourite things.
She went to university to study English, and then went to college at the post-grad level to study creative writing. Her work has been reviewed by HarperCollins editors. Now, she writes for publications like HelloGiggles, Quirk Books, and Bustle. She is also an Editorial Literary Assistant with P.S. Literary Agency.