Banned Books Week is an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read and the First Amendment. It has been observed since 1982 and is sponsored by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Banned Books Week for 2009 started Saturday and runs through Oct. 3.
The American Library Association prepared a list of books that are often considered to be literary classics that have been banned or challenged. Some of the titles include “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Of Mice and Men” and “Catch-22.” For the complete list, see the American Library Association banned book list.
Terry Lewis, who is the Irons Middle School librarian and the Lubbock Independent School District’s library facilitator for secondary schools, said school librarians work hard to provide material appropriate to the ages of their readers while at the same time avoiding the censoring of ideas.
That can be challenging in an environment where books can draw opposition from parents for a variety of reasons.
It takes more than controversy to keep LISD libraries from stocking books, Lewis said. The Harry Potter books have drawn opposition in some places, but they are on the shelves of LISD libraries, Lewis said.
“They’re very popular, and I love them all. But they have been controversial,” she said, adding, “Not in the LISD that much.”
Similarly, in some places “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” are considered controversial, but they are available for LISD students to read.
Lewis noted books in schools fall into two areas. The first is curriculum, where certain books are required reading for various classes. The second is in a school library collection, where the books are on the shelves available to be checked out by students who want to read them.
Regarding books in the library collection, they are optional, Lewis said. No one is required to read them.
Books that have been challenged in the LISD library collections or curricula.
- Oct. 3, 1990: “Ordinary People” – It was retained.
- Oct. 11, 1990: “My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins or Things” – It was retained.
- Nov. 19, 1990: “Witches in Fact and Fantasy” – It was removed due to readability level and mature nature of themes.
- Also on Nov. 19, 1990: “Curses, Hexes & Spells,” “Schemers, Dreamers and Medicine Men” and “Man and Magic” – All three books were retained.
- Jan. 14, 1991: “21st Century Fox” – The reconsideration committee recommended retention, but the librarian removed the book because she did not feel it could be supported in an appeal.
- Feb. 4, 1991: “Marked for Murder” – It was moved to restricted circulation, which is a section where students have to have parents’ permission to check out a book.
- May 1, 1991: “The Giant’s Toe” – It was retained.
- Oct. 28, 1991: “Stonewords: A Ghost Story” – It was retained.
- Dec. 16, 1992: “Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm” – It was retained.
- Jan. 28, 1993: “The Amazing Bone” – It was retained.
- Oct. 13, 1993: “1984” – It was removed from junior high curriculum only.
- May 17, 1994: “The Way to Happiness” – The committee ruled the booklet should be removed from K-12 curriculum and should not be placed in elementary libraries, but a single copy of the booklet could be placed in junior high school and high school libraries.
- Oct. 22, 1996: “Blubber” – It was retained.
- Sept. 15, 1997: “Long Live the Queen” – It was removed from junior high collections but retained at the high school level.
- Dec. 12, 2006: “Of Mice and Men” – It was retained in high school curriculum.
Source: Lubbock Avalanche Journal