Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Book Week

It's Banned Book Week in the US. In Canada, we have a similar week in February: "Freedom to Read" week.

Now, if you want to stir up a group of writers, this is the topic! I think all writers will jump up and down, waving their hands in the air, desperately striving for their turn to speak. Banning books is a scary thought.

It always brings me back to high school and Farenheit 451. Our teacher introduced us to many great books back then, but I think this one was my fave. Such an amazing book. The image of the fire hose as a snake (python I think) as it ate the books has always stayed with me. As has the message of the book. Powerful stuff.

In Canada, or at least in my city, we don't have much fuss about banning books. The only rumour I remember hearing was when Harry Potter first stormed onto the scene. Other communities were talking about banning it. Being teachers, we all ran out to buy copies. Several of us read the book to our students as soon as we'd finished it ourselves. Not exactly what the people ranting about the book envisioned I'm sure. :)

So, are books ever banned in your communities? Do you have to fight for the right to read freely? Do your kids get exposed to all kinds of books and genres, or are some things suppressed?


  1. I don't know how a community could ban a book anymore -- I mean there are SO MANY outlets now where people can get their literary fix (from old-school hardbacks to digital). It's not like when "Grapes of Wrath" came out and whole counties in CA could keep it off shelves.

    I don't know, what's your experience folks? Is it still possible to limit access to literature?

  2. Good point! The Internet has changed our lives so dramatically, hasn't it? Access to just about everything is relatively painless. And for the most part, that's good!

  3. No banning where I am, but Vancouver is fairly live and let live. There are some conservative elements that rant on in one of my local papers but not much attention is paid. I think your first commenter has a good point. The internet opens up the world - for the good, and (unfortunately) for the bad.


  4. There are lots of parents who want to ban books around here, but the school has some good lawyers.

    It's sort of an antiquated concept, I think. Kids learn most of the stuff we want to keep them away from via other kids - and even books we knew our parents didn't want us to read got smuggled into sleepover parties.

    It's such an odd concept to censor ideas...

  5. Elspeth - I don't know of any Canadians who've had experience with people trying to ban books. Thankfully :) No one pays much attention to our "ranting element" here either.

    Anne - glad to hear your school boards aren't letting the banning happen! We can't teach our kids to really think without giving them things to think about! And you're right - kids will usually find a way, won't they! :)

  6. My school removed all of the Darren Shan books from the library after one complaint. The Head reviewed one book and acted. It was a shame that the books were a present from a family who wanted to reward the school for helping her son, a reluctant reader, find the key to unlocking the joy of reading.
    Love your collection of posts designed to make the reader think. Cheers, Elaine

  7. Elaine - That's so sad! I remember a few year back when Stine's Goosebumps series came out. There was a lot of fuss in some circles about them. I had a young girl who had never read a book on her own. She read 17 Goosebump books that year. The next year she moved on to more challenging books in more diverse genres. She became a reader. I don't think it would have happened without Stine. I wish people would really think before making such decisions!

    Thanks so much for your comment and for dropping by!

  8. I'm dumb. I've been saying it is Freedom to Read Week/Banned Books Week. Sigh. I think this cold gave me brain damage.

  9. Nasty cold! I hope you're almost over it. And it's all the same concept anyway!

  10. Luckily our library celebrates it. They post a list of the most frequently challenged and banned books and set up an entire display with these lovely literary gems.

  11. jwacker - Love it!! I talked about banning books with my students today. They were surprised it ever happened. Really good conversation :)