It is National Banned Books Week, which is held to celebrate the freedom to read what we want. This is the 30th anniversary of the event, organized by the American Library Association in support of our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. That doesn't mean you have to agree with what someone is saying, or that you have to allow your child to read a book that you deem inappropriate for their age. But it does mean that you can't prohibit everyone else from reading that book. Three books that found their way onto banned or restricted lists this year are below. For more banned book lists, or for more information about this week, click here.
The Curious Incident of the Dog
in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
Christopher John Francis Boone is an amazing 15-year-old. He can name all the countries of the world and he can manipulate numbers in his head with computer-like speed. But Christopher is autistic and has trouble understanding human emotions; he even carries a cheat sheet of facial expressions so he can comprehend his interactions with others. Only animals are easy for him to understand. When a neighbor's dog dies, Christopher is accused of the crime. He decides that he will follow in the footsteps of his hero, Sherlock Holmes, and find the true criminal. Curious Incident is a touching, funny, and insightful look at an autistic boy whose mind just works a little differently.
Removed from the Lake Fenton, Mich., summer reading program after parents complained about its “foul language.” (2004 - Knopf Doubleday)
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
I discovered the first of this trilogy a couple of years ago and was completely enthralled. Suzanne Collins imagines a future where the government maintains tight control over its 12 districts by demanding a harsh tribute of two children chosen by lottery from each territory who will fight in a televised gladiator game. Katniss offers to take her younger sister's place to fight to the death. She sees no other way except to join in the inhuman reality show, but will she lose her own humanity along the way? This is a searing look at our own modern world, and its fascination with violent games, reality television, and an occasional inability to see the danger in blindly following others. Look for the filmed version of this book in December.
Challenged and presented to the Goffstown, N.H., school board by a parent claiming that it gave her 11-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence. (2008 - Scholastic)
The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
The ironic thing about this title being on a banned book list is that it is often held up as a warning against dictatorial societies that repress an individual's rights. The Nazis were well-known for banning and burning books that they deemed inappropriate, or that did not agree with the party line.
Anne Frank was not a paragon of virtue. Much like any other teenager throughout time, she struggled at that precipice between childhood and adulthood. But she went through her awkward teen years locked in an attic and in fear for her life and the lives of those she loved.
I would hate for anyone to read my early diaries. It literally makes me squirm to think about it ― all the earnest writings and over-the-top emotions. But Anne's diary shows her strength and her vulnerability in the face of situations that we all encounter, in a time that I hope we never live through again.
Challenged at the Culpeper County, Va., public schools by a parent requesting that her daughter not be required to read the book aloud. The director of instruction announced the edition published on the 50th anniversary of Frank’s death will not be used in the future despite the fact the school system did not follow its own policy for handling complaints. The remarks brought criticism and international attention to the school system. The superintendent said, however, that the book will remain a part of English classes. (1947 - Doubleday)