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Banned Books Week: 5 Of Your Favorites

Banned Books Week: 5 Of Your Favorites
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This week is Banned Books Week, which celebrates the freedom to read and the First Amendment. In an age when more information is available than ever thanks to the internet, Banned Books Week highlights issues of censorship and reminds us why free and open access to information is an essential part of our society. Banned Books Week puts intellectual freedom — “the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular” — in the spotlight.

Since literature has existed, there have been calls to ban it. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato argued in his Republic that the poetry of Homer — his Iliad and the Odyssey were part of a young (male) Athenian citizen’s education — and the plays of the great tragic poets should be banned from his ideal state because they taught falsehoods about the gods and offered poor models of proper behavior and virtue. Inappropriate content — because that content is judged as sexually explicit or containing “offensive language” or material “unsuited to any age group” — remains a top reason that books end up on the banned lists of school curriculum and libraries. Fears run deep about the power of words to lead young minds astray.

But calls to challenge and ban books have their uses. Sometimes nothing succeeds like a little negative publicity to remind us of why we need books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm and many other classics and more recent works.

Here are just a few books that have been frequently challenged and that Care2 members have noted as favorites.

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157 comments

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5:12PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

Sadly, censorship can indeed work. A decree may provoke more interest in a book (and we, comfortable in our superiority, laugh at the banners' foolishness ), yet destruction can indeed take books' ideas, factual reportage, worldviews, even awareness of their existence, etc. permanently beyond our reach. What was lost with the Library of Alexandria, or in the mountains of Mayan texts burnt by the conquistadores? Are we even able to conceive of what is lost, much less remember and reconstruct, in the face of the Nazi destruction of books and art, the reduction of language itself in Orwell's 1984, or the elimination oral literature by colonizers who forbid the use of the indigenes' language?

4:15AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

thank you for sharing

10:56AM PST on Dec 24, 2013

I think banning books just bring more controversy and attention to themselves. And a government should never ban books. A school can choose what they want, but they should keep the phenomenon of negative attention when they say a book is 'banned' especially now with free access on the internet. Thanks.

8:00AM PST on Jan 12, 2013

By the way, I tried to read Lady Chatterley's Lover once and found it extremely boring, as did my best friend, a fellow English major. We never got past the first 100 pages or so.

I think that if you didn't play up that book, students would never get to the controversial parts (which my English professor, who also was a licensed pastor, said was really quite innocuous) out of boredom from the rest of the book!

7:56AM PST on Jan 12, 2013

I'm shocked at the first two! To Kill s Mockingbird and A Tale of Two Cities! I can understand not wanting elementary students to read Grapes of Wrath.

On the other hand, as someone with an M.A. in English, I do have to question teaching certain books. Lolita is the one that comes to mind. When we studied it in grad school,I had to skip that class because, as the friend and sister-in-law of several women and men who have been molested, I got physically ill while reading that book and couldn't finish it. I would have qualms teaching that book, given the high likelihood that at least one or more of my students is likely to have been molested, and I just can't imagine putting them through the pain of reading a demented man's lust for a young girl. It does not become clear that she was with other men before Humbert Humbert until later in the book. I never even managed to get to that section of the book because of the horror i experienced from living in my friends' shoes, friends who are still so damaged from the abuse that they can't work or function regularly.

11:44PM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

What I've always found fascinating about lists of banned books, is they are by and large, replete with rather innocuous and inoffensive titles. Flowers for Algernon often makes these lists but one doesn't see Naked Lunch or Gravity's Rainbow, or even 120 Days of Sodom on them. I gather the authoritarian types that fear books, would be afraid to even write those titles lest they be somehow contaminated, or else they are too obscure to even show up on the radar screen.

9:56AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

None of these deserved to be banned. Stupid, close-minded society.

2:58PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

The only one I haven't read is "And Tango Makes Three." I'll have to check it out.

11:01PM PST on Nov 29, 2011


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6:33PM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, Judy Blume's Blubber, Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden:
All terrific books all great reads Blubber and Annie on my Mind touch the heart, Captain underpants is a great book for a light moment and there Night Kitchen is a classic picture book.

All Banned. But I must say something about Banned Books, as much as it is terrible to ban anything or anyone, if you say a book is banned, watch the kids flock to it.


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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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