Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week, Sept 24-Oct 1: Read a Banned Book Today

Dear friends, fellow writers, and upholders of intellectual freedom,

Did you know that in some schools and libraries, books such as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been challenged or banned?  

This week marks Banned Books Week, sponsored annually by the American Library Association. Several years ago, when I served on the Plainfield Cultural and Heritage Commission, we held a couple of community "read-ins" at the Plainfield Public Library to observe this important week of intellectual freedom by having Plainfield residents (adults and children) read passages from books that, for numerous reasons, had been banned in schools and libraries around the country. 

Our special guest in 2005 was renowned poet and scholar Cheryl Clarke, (link) who read aloud the love scene between Celie and Shug in Alice Walker's Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning yet much-banned The Color Purple, along with selections from one of her own highly-regarded books of poetry. The following year, we focused on Latin American authors as part of Hispanic Heritage Week, as they overlapped. Others who read at these events were Plainfield residents Herb Green (reading from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), Alice Logie (reading from Dr. Seuss's The Lorax), Julie Jerome (reading from Heather Has Two Mommies) and a couple dozen other folks. 

It was gratifying to know that all the books we used for the read-in were provided to us from our own library. Below are challenged classics, some of which I teach in my literature classes:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Ulysses, by James Joyce
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
1984, by George Orwell
 Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Native Son, by Richard Wright

Click on this link to see the Top Ten books that were banned in 2010:

The dangers of book-banning are well-known in our country--below is a link to the ALA site, where you can find a comprehensive list of the most-banned books, along with more information about the events for the week:

All best,


1 comment:

olddoc said...

What an imposing list of classics that the thought police find unacceptable. They would have be great advocates for the book burnings that various zealots and morality dictators of all ages. They are an equivalent of the Taliban who destroyed the Great Buddhas a world treasure.