Banned Books Week Write-Off Number 5, Celebrating the Freedom to Read, September 25-October 2, 2010

Aug 27, 2010 (Updated Oct 2, 2010)

The Bottom Line Banning books restricts individual freedoms. Join my 5th Banned Books Write Off scheduled for September 25 - October 2 by contributing a review of a challenged or banned book. 

Once again I ask that you celebrate your freedom (and my freedom) to read the books of your choice and this year's theme for the American Library Association's Banned Books Week is Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same. This year marks my fifth year in a row for this write off but it is the 29th annual celebration of the freedom to read from the American Library Association.

The ALA reminds us, "This freedom, not only to choose what we read, but also to select from a full array of possibilities, is firmly rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Although we enjoy an increasing quantity and availability of information and reading material, we must remain vigilant to ensure that access to this material is preserved; would-be censors who continue to threaten the freedom to read come from all quarters and all political persuasions. Even if well intentioned, censors try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they read, see, or hear."

Recommended steps for remaining vigilant include staying informed, remaining aware of what's happening (ask librarians, educators, principals about challenge attempts), following actions of public officials regarding attempts to restrict access to books, attending school board and library board or PTA meetings, subscribing to print and online news publications, and joining groups committed to preserving the right to read. I further recommend talking with your children and if a book seems uncomfortable to them or you, work through it together but allow other parents the same right.

Personally I would never read some of the books on this list, they don't interest me for a variety of reasons but I've also found that some books I might avoid have proven to be among the most insightful and provocative. The books on the lists, however, continue to surprise me and the reasons for some of the challenges remain unbelievable. The ALA further reminds us that, "when we speak up to protect the right to read, we not only defend our individual right to free expression, we demonstrate tolerance and respect for opposing points of view. And when we take action to preserve our precious freedoms, we become participants in the ongoing evolution of our democratic society."

While taking action from this write off would be ideal, that's not what I'm asking. This write off is intended to encourage you to read a book that has been challenged, either in 2009-2010 or in the years before, and read it with an open mind.

Top Ten Books in 2009
TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R series
And Tango Makes Three
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
To Kill a Mockingbird
Twilight (Stephenie Meyer series)
Catcher in the Rye
My Sister's Keeper
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
The Color Purple
The Chocolate War

As always, if the book is not in the database, please submit a request for a SAP and it will be added. The  Twilight Series has multiple listings but if you have difficulty locating one of the books, ask me for help. This top ten list is only a start. See below for the links to other top ten challenges per year for this past decade.

When You Write Your Review
Read and write your review as you would normally, but include something about the challenge, the ban, or why you think that it was (it's easy to find out why with a little research). Some have commented that they didn't like the book, but like me, didn't think everyone would have the same reaction and that perhaps it would offer a perspective that might prove beneficial. Many have stated they enjoyed reading a book they might otherwise avoid. As always provide a link to this write off so others can participate either by contributing or leaving comments. If the book has already been covered I encourage you to add your own thoughts. Occasionally multiple reviews of the same controversial book have been submitted in one year. That's very acceptable and often enlightening.

If you want to know more about what other Epinions reviewers have had to say look at the contributions from the past four years. Many of the books are identified (with Epinions links) at the following:

2006 Banned Books W/O
2007 Banned Books W/O
2008 Banned Books W/O
2009 Banned Books W/O (In memory of Judith Krug)

Deadline for Submission
Entries to this write-off should be submitted by September 25 but no later than October 2.

How do I post my entry?
When your entry is complete and you are ready to share it, return to this invitation and post a link in my comment section or email me your link ( I'll post your review links at the bottom of this invitation and I'll notify you when I've posted it. Unlike in 2008 I'm not selling a house or moving and my response time will be speedy. I look forward to reading the entries for this every year. I will keep this link on my short bio until the last day of the write off.

For the past four years I've read every review posted in this write off and have loved your thoughts. It's especially important right now for us to remember the value of respecting another's opinion -- we all come together with diversity and an infinite mix of backgrounds. Look through the lists, wander back through previous reviews and find a book that might make you uncomfortable. Some books are obvious challenges and I can't imagine children reading them, but that's not my call nor is it my decision.

Last year people asked about submitting movies. The one that was submitted seemed to fit because of the topic but I'm not certain this is the venue for banned movies, which would be a topic more appropriate for a movie reviewer to implement.

Final Thoughts (Again because I can't perfect on this thought)
Libraries were one of the first institutions that opened their doors to all. People of all ethnicities were given free access to libraries and books. Through the ALA's efforts, libraries actively defend constitutional rights of all individuals. They respect the individual's rights and recognize that their collections can contribute to a future "that values freedom of speech in a world that celebrates both our similarities and our differences." Either for the fun of it, or for the awareness and celebration of individual rights, start reading and writing!! I look forward to reading your contributions and look forward to sharing your thoughts with everyone else. 

For more information
Banned and Challenged Books for 2009-2010:
Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009:
Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 1990-1999:
Top 10 Lists for 2000-2009:
About Banned Books Week:

Your thoughts

The first submission comes from
jurgrace with her review of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight

In order of contribution:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, contributed by jankp
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, contributed by dolphinboy
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, contributed by driftless 
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block, contributed by scmrak
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, contributed by jankp
The Earth of Mankind (Buru Quartet 1) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, contributed by Stephen_Murray
The Fugitive by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, also contributed by Stephen Murray
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, contributed by me
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, contributed by msiduri
Deadline by Chris Crutcher, contributed by scmrak
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, contributed by millinocket
Animal Farm by George Orwell, contributed by texas-swede
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, contributed by befus
Hit List Frequently Challenged Books for Children, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, contributed by me.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, contributed by jankp (her third)
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, contributed by me
Child of All Nations by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, contributed by Stephen_Murray (his third)

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