Celebrate Banned Books Week

“To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves.” — Claude-Adrien Helvétius

This past Saturday marked the beginning of Banned Books Week, a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness of and fight against literary censorship. Every year, in violation of the First Amendment right to intellectual freedom, angry citizens lobby to snatch certain books from American bookshelves because of content they disagree with. 2010 saw 348 books challenged (a dip from 2009’s number of 460, but remarkable just the same).

What’s truly remarkable is the literary quality of some of the books facing persecution. In the past, banned and challenged books have included:

  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

(For more info, check out these fascinating explanations for why these classics were banned or challenged.)

Luckily, American readers have banned together to fight back against censorship and are often able to save books from the dreaded “banned list”. The only way to keep great works of literature in circulation and protect our intellectual freedom is to be aware and take a stand! This Banned Books Week, the American Library Association encourages you participate in a Virtual Read-Out: take a stand by posting a video of yourself reading from your favorite banned book to a special YouTube Channel. (If you do post a video, send it to us!)

Consider sticking up for one of the following 10 most challenged titles of 2010:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (a children’s book about about a baby penguin raised by two daddies)
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonia Sones
  8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
  9. Revolutionary Voices, by Amy Sonnie
  10. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

Let’s do our part, Wesleyan! Read a banned book this week or simply spread the word.

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