PaperBackSwap Blog

Banned Books Week – Sept 24 through Oct 1

By Tammy (lildrafire)



Wouldn’t life be grand if every book you picked up, every television show or movie you watched, every magazine or newspaper you read was sanitized?  No worries about being exposed to profanity, violence, sexual situations, unsavory lifestyles and the sort.  Grand?  I think not!  Life is nothing more than an accumulation of experiences of every sort, and if a person cannot physically experience all life has to offer, both positive and negative, there is media of every kind, especially books, portraying other’s experiences, both fiction and non-fiction, for everyone to enjoy, to to learn from or just to experience secondhand what the creator intended.  There are people who would love to prohibit you from having any of these experiences that you might choose.

In 1982, the American Library Association, or ALA, recognized that many of the best books were being pulled from library shelves, not only in schools, but public libraries, as well.  Their astonishment and concern about censorship demanded they take action and they did, through the creation of their Office of Intellectual Freedom and the formation of Banned Books Week, which is September 24th through October 1st of every year.   Calling attention to the threat on free speech in America, the effort to educate the public and highlight books that are challenged and banned every year has become a national event, provoking many to pick up books that they would probably have never explored just because it had been placed on a challenge list.  Quite the opposite effect the censoring parties intended!

Many people, myself included, consider it a double-dog dare to read a book once it has been challenged or banned!  We automatically think “How dare they take it upon themselves to decide what is best for me!”  We are stunned when we read a news story, like the one last year, where The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was “sanitized” by taking out the word “Nigger Jim” and replacing it with “Slave Jim.”  What did this do to the statement Clements was trying to make with his novel?  Did it change the message?  Many people believe it did, while others believed that replacing the word opened the novel up to a whole new group of people who otherwise would not have read it.  You decide what you believe.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the top banned books of this country.


To what end do we let those who would decide what is appropriate regulate what we consume in the printed word?  Communities decide upon standards of decency, which may or may not compel them to challenge or ban certain books from the shelves of their schools and libraries.  Books are challenged for varying reasons, but the most common reasons are profanity, violence, drug use, and sex/sexuality.  This past year, two of the most challenged books were extremely popular young adult literature that most of us are familiar with- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Twilight by Stephanie Myers.  The Hunger Games series is a trilogy about a futuristic society that annually forces a group of teens, two from each of it’s 12 districts, to fight to the death for the purposes of entertaining the Capital and intimidating the districts.  There is quite a bit of violence in the novels, but there would be no story without the violence.  It is essential to furthering the story.

So why is Banned Books Week a big deal?  Because it strikes at the core of who we are as Americans who value liberty.  The rights our forefathers had the insight to include in the Constitution guarantee authors the liberty to put their thoughts to paper without censorship from those who would restrict them, as well as giving us the right to consume these thoughts without restriction.  As our world changes, from paper to digital, even more intellectual content becomes available, which means even more distribution of a profusion of ideas and experiences to be found in stories and novels and poetry.  We must be diligent that these ideas are not censored by those who would like to purify our world to fit their definitions of propriety.

Some of the classic novels that are on banned books lists are To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and Animal Farm by George Orwell and Call of the Wild by Jack London, all beloved classics that deserve a read.  You can find an extensive list of the most frequently banned and challenged books at the ALA website, www.ala.org and at the Banned Books Week website, www.bannedbooksweek.org.  The Banned books website is also featuring a “Read Out” this year, where individuals can upload videos of themselves reading aloud from banned books.  Find more info on their website about this activity and more.


So, what can you do, the average PBS reader, to commemorate Banned Books Week?  It’s simple!  Read a banned or challenged book today!  Celebrate your freedom to read what you choose!


Below are some Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century



6 Responses to “Banned Books Week – Sept 24 through Oct 1”

  1. Lori B. says:

    Tammy, that’s a very thought provoking write-up! Yet another reason to be thankful for living in America. All books are a precious commodity.

  2. Mindy says:

    Thanks for the reminder about banned books week! I didn’t know The Great Gatsby had been banned.

  3. lildrafire says:

    Thanks for the feedback, ladies 😉

  4. Casey N. (casey-sue) , says:

    SO many of us were required to read “banned books” as school assignments and to this day I’ve yet to hear a parent complain. If the school is letting your child read it then whats the problem!? Banned books are getting out of control!

  5. Zylyn says:

    I was wait-listed for a library book “Snow White, Blood Red” – I kept moving up the list, then out of nowhere the book was gone. Not lost, but no catalog entry in the library. What the????? After asking the librarian (she “couldn’t help me”) I got the book through PBS -yay!. I wondered if the book was pulled and at whose judgement?? (I live in a relatively small conservative county in Washington state.) Was I was angry at my library – you bet!!!!! Don’t know what I can do about it though….

  6. lildrafire says:

    You may have been required to read the classics that were banned previously, but banned books week also focuses on newly written books that are challenged every day.

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