Hello everyone! Julia from Jackson County Public Library here, to talk to you all about Banned Books Week, happening September 27th through October 3rd!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of celebrating this week of censor-free festivities, lets first cover our bases. What exactly is a banned book? Why do we have this week to celebrate them?
A Brief Walk through History
Well, according to the ALA (aka the American Library Association) Banned Books week all began with the precedent-setting court case Island Trees School v. Pico, which occurred in 1982.
In February 1976, Island Trees School District officials made a decision to disallow a list of books that were deemed inappropriate for its students to read, and thereby banned from its library, after receiving pressure from a parent organization called Parents of New York United.
The Parents zeroed in on nine titles in particular, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Langston Hughes’s Best Short Stories for Negro Writers , calling the books “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.” (According to The Bill of Rights Institute)
Four seniors at the high school, led by Steven Pico, formally challenged their school board’s decision, stating that the Parent’s of New York United only wanted to ban the books because they offended them, not because the books were without educational value. The case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court! Where it was decided the under the First Amendment, these books were protected. In addition, the Supreme Court decided no government agency, in this case the school officials, were in a position to place restrictions on items in the school’s library.
Hot off of this court decision, the American Booksellers Association decided, in 1982, to use Banned Books as a theme at their annual Book Expo. Organizers placed around 500 books that were deemed too scandalous to read in cages, with a large sign cautioning convention goers that these books were considered dangerous.
Banned Books Today
Though the Supreme Court’s decision classified banning books as unconstitutional, it doesn’t mean that groups do not continuously try to strike reading materials they find subjectively unsuitable. Each year, dozens of books are placed in the hot seat. Want a list of classic novels that have been banned and even sometimes burned? No problem! Check this list out.
The hope of Banned Books Week is to get ravenous readers such as yourself to crack open a spine or two of these so-called “scandalous” novels. The written word hold so much power, and this week encourages you to read materials many have fought hard to protect our access to in libraries and books stores across the country.
Books aren’t the only things that are challenged due to their contents, According the the ALA’s 2019 Field Report for Banned and Challenged Books, movies, newspapers, library displays, and even community meetings have been placed under threat of censorship as well.
Some of the movies include:
The Club- a 2016 movie that was challenged due to its sexual overtones at the Deschutes Public Library in Oregon.
Death Proof– A patron at Josephine County Library requested the library discard the Quentin Tarantino Movie due to the “foul language”.
The Wolf of Wall Street– Was challenged at Antioch Public Library in Illinois by a patron due to its vulgar language and drug use.
All of these movies, though challenged, were retained in their respective library’s catalog.
Another interesting censorship tidbit- The county commissioners for Citrus County Florida, unanimously decided to deny the library’s request for the digital subscription of the New York Times. In explanation, the commissioners stated that the newspaper was “fake news.” Though the library’s request for the digital subscription was denied, the library still maintains their print subscription to the periodical.
Want more information about challenged materials, meetings and movies in 2019? Pick up one of the ALA’s Field Reports available at each of Fontana’s libraries!
So now we know why Banned Books week exists, what better way to celebrate zero censorship than by reading one of these books with a pot-stirring plot?
Have an appointment at one of the Fontana Regional Libraries during the next couple weeks? Take a gander at one of our Banned Books displays and see if one of these guys strike your fancy!
Don’t have an appointment? No problem, just give your home library a call and we can schedule you an appointment to browse our banned selection.
In the meantime here are some Banned Books you can place on hold now!
How do you plan to celebrate Banned Books Week? Maybe by suggesting one of these banned titles to read next in your book club? Maybe you’re reading solo and simply plan to curl up with a stack of these books? Let us know in the comments below!