Banning Books Silences Stories: BBW 2018

Every year, the American Library Association and other groups sponsor a week-long celebration of intellectual freedom: Banned Book Week, the last week in September.  The main goal of BBW is to protest censorship and acknowledge books that have been challenged, praising them for their value and meaning and their ability to change lives.

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All graphics from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/freedownloads

The theme this year is very meaningful in light of the #ownvoices movement, speaking to the idea that banning books takes away the voice of authors and readers who are seeking to validate their own identities and experiences through fiction.

Did you know that books are challenged in schools and libraries every year?  In 2017, there were 354 challenges, up from 323 in 2016.  Here are the top 10 most challenged books from the last year.

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It is an interesting mix; the majority of the books deal with racial or LGBT+ content.  There are classics, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, which was also included in PBS’s Great American Read list.  And there are some brand new books, such as The Hate U Give.  This is a very interesting inclusion because it was only published in February of last year, yet it already made the most challenged list.  That says to me that it is a powerful book, which is certainly corroborated by the number of awards it has won.

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I’m excited to be reading The Hate U Give this week.  It has some difficult subject matter; as you can see, it was challenged for its “vulgarity” and depictions of drug use, to say nothing of its very timely portrayal of a police shooting.  You can read more about the challenges against the book on the Banned Books Week website.

As a parent myself, I understand the instinct to want to shield our kids from anything upsetting or dangerous, thinking that they are not prepared to handle it.  But drug use and police shootings are facts of life, and how will kids ever be prepared to handle these concepts if they don’t first read and think about them?  We are not required to agree with the viewpoint of everything we read; in fact, we can better understand our own feelings and opinions by reading points of view that challenge them.

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The Hate U Give has a lot to offer readers of all ages, including a fresh, young, authentic voice in its protagonist Starr.  I love Starr’s progression as she processes her grief and trauma, finding her voice and speaking out for justice with courage.  I really recommend it, and I’m looking forward to the movie adaptation coming out next month, too.

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Have you guys read any of these (or other) banned books?  Which is your favorite?

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5 thoughts on “Banning Books Silences Stories: BBW 2018

  1. lorrs33 September 26, 2018 / 6:06 pm

    To Kill A Mockingbird was assigned to us in school so it amazes me that people still challenge it. I’ve also read The Hate U Give – great book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei September 26, 2018 / 10:26 pm

      I wouldn’t be surprised if TKAM wins the top spot in the GAR…it really is one of the most beloved books! You’d think everyone would want their kids to read it, not the other way around XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. saraletourneau September 26, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Amen to everything you’ve said about The Hate U Give. I’m not surprised it’s showing up on banned book lists, but it’s such a necessary story right now. Teens have a better awareness of what’s going on in the world than adults often give them credit for. If they see controversial yet realistic topics in TV and movies, then those subjects belong in a book, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei September 26, 2018 / 10:35 pm

      True, teens are exposed to plenty of controversial topics in other media. Books are even better because if they’re being studied in school, there is guaranteed discussion and analysis. I think I told three people today alone that they should read The Hate U Give!

      Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau September 30, 2018 / 7:58 pm

        ^^ Indeed. And I think the conversation re: The Hate U Give in particular will continue for a long time – not just because the book is still so popular, but also because the movie is coming out soon.

        Liked by 1 person

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