(This video was made in 2010 but I re-post it for Banned Books Week)
Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as that document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.
–President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Remarks at Dartmouth College Commencement (June 14, 1953)
(Source: Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Remarks at the Dartmouth College Commencement Exercises, Hanover, New Hampshire.,” June 14, 1953. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9606.)
This week from September 22-28, ,2013, the nation’s libraries mark Banned Books Week.
Rarely are books actually “banned” in America. More typically , they are pulled from libraries and classrooms after the objection of a an individual or group. The ALA explains the difference between “banned” and “challenged.”
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.
So it is time to think about the “Book Wars” again. That often means rounding up the “usual suspects” like The Catcher in the Rye, Beloved, or To Kill a Mockingbird.
But it also means that new books come along all the time that many parents, school board members or other individuals find “offensive” or “inappropriate.”
As the nation debates “Common Core,” an educational approach that demands reading and responding to ideas, the importance of this reminder of the right to free expression and the value of THINKING in a free society is more urgent than ever.
You can find many more resources on the issue of “banned” and “challenged” books at the American Library Association.