Some might argue that Labor Day is the only holiday in September; however, those of us who work in libraries know better. Because of all the hoopla surrounding this important 2020 election, many probably don’t realize that this week is Banned Books Week. Books are banned for a variety of reasons. Racism, violence, negativity, and point of view are a few of them, but is censorship helpful? Why ban books about controversial topics we, as a human society, are bound to experience at least once in our lifetime? Literature helps us navigate our world by bringing light to uncomfortable and challenging topics.
This year’s American Library Association theme is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read.” We with all of the turmoil presently in our country, we encourage you to read a banned book to open your mind to new ideas even if you don’t agree with them. Books on the banned list include:
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie;
- Bone (series) by Jeff Smith;
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger;
- Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey;
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood;
- Internet Girls (series) by Lauren Myracle;
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee;
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou;
- It’s a Book by Lane Smith;
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck;
- Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron;
- So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins.
Click here for the Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books: 2010 – 2019.
In some cases, one of us thinks the temporary banning of books is appropriate. Parents may restrict their underage children from reading explicit content. In most cases, we all agree that we must educate ourselves through the power of books to prevent ignorance and one-dimensional views.
The 1982 court case of Island Trees School District v. Pico stemmed from a parent group complaint that the school board was too lenient with its library book policies. The school removed the books by authors Langston Hughes, Kurt Vonnegut and more. Students challenged this decision all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled, on First Amendment grounds, that school officials were not allowed to ban books in libraries because of subject material. Banned Books Week began in the 1980s, but unfortunately books are still being banned today.
SoNo Branch of the Norwalk Public Library staff
- Deneeka Baker, Library Assistant/College Student
- Crystal Lopez, Library Assistant/College Student
- Hailey Roy, Shelver/High School Student