This week, the last week of September, is a time where libraries, booksellers, and many more celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual event where we highlight the value of free and open access to information and to all content. The celebration was started in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of books being challenged in public libraries and schools. Since that time the American Library Association has noted more than 11,300 challenges of books. In 2013 alone the Office of Intellectual Freedom received 307 reports of challenges, and many more go unreported. Banned Books Week brings together librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and individual readers of all types in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.
In public libraries and public schools it is important to highlight the value of free access and the hindrances of censorship to the entire community of readers. Many times a book is challenged by a parent or concerned citizen who feels that a book is inappropriate. The main challenges against a book are: material that is considered to be “Sexually Explicit,” material that contains “Offensive Language,” and material that is considered “Unsuited to any age group.” While these may be valid reasons to have a conversation with your own children and family members about the appropriateness of a title, it is widely agreed upon by librarians, booksellers, and others that these are not reasons why a general population should be kept from the opportunity to read a book. “Free Access to Libraries for Minors,” an American Library Association policy concerning access to information, states a very similar idea. It says, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.”
As an organization that helps to distribute books, through our Playaway products, to schools and libraries, Findaway World is proud to help those parties allow their patrons access to any book they want to read. In order to bring awareness this year, we’ve talked to some of our own Findawayers about one of their favorite books on a Banned Books list.
“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.” – Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451”
Challenged in 1987 because of vulgarity and in 2006 because of offensive language, the portrayal of Christians, and negative depictions of firemen. In 1992 a school blacked out all “obscene” words in the copies of books given to students.