UL alumna Amanda Anderson, now an English instructor at Washington State CC in Marietta OH has continued a tradition she experienced as graduate student at UL:  she has organized students and staff there to read books that have been banned at various times and places across the United States. The event is part of Banned Books Week (BBW), an annual event held to show support for First Amendment rights and to promote the free exchange of ideas.

As a first-year instructor at WSCC, Anderson first presented the project to her children's literature students during a unit on censorship.  According to a report in The Marietta Times, Anderson explains that while parents have the right and responsibility to monitor their own children's reading, "that right does not extend to other people's children."

An interactive map on the BBW website shows that there was only one report of a book recently banned in Louisiana, in Raceland where in 2008 Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War was removed from a classroom at Central Lafourche High School for violating the district policy on cursing.  The American Library Association (ALA) estimates, however, that 70 to 80 percent of banned books are never reported.

According to the ALA website, the 20 most frequently banned or challenged books of the last decade were:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan

From the BBW website
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

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. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.


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