Annual event observes freedom of reading

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Banned Books Week is an annual event that celebrates the freedom of reading while drawing attention to banned and challenged books. The event began in 1982, and is held during the last week of September. The celebration “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them,” keeping published materials available to the public, so people can develop their own conclusions and opinions.

Challenged literary works are not the event’s only focal point, as it highlights intellectual freedom in bookstores, libraries, and schools, while teaching the importance of the First Amendment. Titles have been challenged over the years based on the themes of language, violence, cultural or racial issues, religion, sexuality, or age-appropriateness.

Books that have been banned over the years have been some of the most recognized classics in literary history. Some of these titles include: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Lord of the Flies, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, The Call of the Wild, and the Harry Potter series.

For the year of 2020, the Top 10 banned books were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The American Library Association’s Top Challenged Books of 2021 list will be available in April of 2022.

On the Net:
Banned Books Week official website

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