Category: censorship

Banned Books Week Is Here — Celebrate With New Handbook!

Banned Books Week kicks off on Sunday, and the Banned Books Week Coalition is celebrating with the CELEBRATE BANNED BOOKS WEEK HANDBOOK, a new publication! Visit https://bannedbooksweek.org/resources/handbook/ to view the handbook or read it below, and find a Banned Books Week event near you at https://bannedbooksweek.org/events/

CELEBRATE BANNED BOOKS WEEK HANDBOOK is a free publication that can be used to guide your celebration of the right to read during Banned Books Week or any time of year! It includes programming ideas, best practices for events, resources, and tips for handling censorship. This invaluable handbook will continue in coming years with annual updates.

The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. Please join us during Banned Books Week, September 23 – 29, 2018! Tell us about your display or event by completing the form at https://bannedbooksweek.org/events/community/add/, and we’ll include it on our events calendar!

Learn more about the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017 at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10 and the challenges facing America’s libraries at http://www.ala.org/news/state-americas-libraries-report-2018

ABOUT THE BANNED BOOKS WEEK COALITION
The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship.

The Banned Books Week Coalition includes American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People for the American Way; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from DKT Liberty Project and Penguin Random House.

Banned Spotlight: Censored Comics

Comics are challenged for all of the same reasons that other books are challenged, but they are uniquely vulnerable to challenges because of their visual nature. Because comics thrive on the power of the static image, a single page or panel can be the impetus for a challenge in a way that’s different from a passage in a book. Some people still believe that comics are low value speech or are made exclusively for children, and object to comics in the library because of these misconceptions.

Here’s a sampling of the most common reasons comics are challenged:

  • Profanity/offensive language
  • Sex or nudity
  • Violence and horror
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Politically/socially/racially offensive
  • Offensive to religious beliefs

Banned Books Week Coalition member Comic Book Legal Defense Fund specializes in the defense of comics and graphic novels and the First Amendment rights of the comics community. A few of the comics they have defended over the years follow.

CBLDF is partnering with Image Comics and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table on a series of livestreams with comics creators during Banned Books Week. Find out more…

Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna

  • Location of key challenge: A middle-school library in Millard, Nebraska
  • Reason challenged: Sexual overtones

The parent of a 6-year-old who checked out the book filed a complaint and took the story to the media; the parent also withheld the book for the duration of the review process rather than returning it per library policy. More…

Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa 

  • Location of key challenge: Japan
  • Reason challenged: Violence, discrimination

Keiji Nakazawa’s internationally renowned manga Barefoot Gen, which depicts wartime atrocities from the perspective of the seven-year-old protagonist, has fallen victim to several challenges in its home country of Japan. More…

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

  • Location of key challenge: Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio
  • Reason challenged: Sexism, offensive language, and unsuited to age group

Despite the challenge, the library retained the book and now holds two copies, which are shelved in the Teen section. More…

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Boland

  • Location of key challenge: Columbus, Nebraska, Public Library
  • Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

In May 2013, a patron of the public library in Columbus, Nebraska requested that the book be removed from the collection, claiming that it “advocates rape and violence.” More…

Blankets by Craig Thompson

  • Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri
  • Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Blankets and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. More…

Bone by Jeff Smith

  • Location of key challenge: Independent School District 196 in Rosemount, Minnesota
  • Reason challenged: Promotion of smoking and drinking

A letter from Jeff Smith decrying the attempted ban of his book was read aloud at the library review committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and the CBLDFMore…

The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

  • Location of key challenge: Undisclosed
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

Artist and comics creator Phoebe Gloeckner has never been afraid to show the raw and gritty bits of reality in her work. For that reason, Gloekner’s work is a frequent target of censors. In 2015, CBLDF was involved in a confidential challenge against the graphic novel over its sexual content, and our efforts kept the book on shelves. More…

Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

  • Location of key challenge: All public school libraries in Wicomico County, Maryland
  • Reason challenged: Violence and nudity

The library review committee recommended that the books in the Dragon Ball series, which were recommended by the publisher for ages 13+, be removed from the entire public school library system, including at the high school level. More…

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

  • Location of key challenge: Chapel Hill Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Texas
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

Although most readers of all ages found Drama to be just as endearing and authentic as Telgemeier’s other books Smile and Sisters, a small but vocal minority have objected to the inclusion of two gay characters. More…

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Nudity, sexual content, and unsuited to age group

When the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011, the second-most challenged book on that list was The Color of Earth, the first book of a critically-acclaimed Korean manwha, or comic book, series. More…

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel 

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. In 2014, the book faced a greater challenge in South Carolina, where the state legislature debated punitive budget cuts against the College of Charleston because it incorporated Fun Home into a voluntary summer reading program for incoming freshman. More…

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

  • Location of key challenge: Undisclosed
  • Reason challenged: Violent imagery

In February 2015, CBLDF was confidentially involved the defense of the graphic novel edition of The Graveyard Book, which was challenged in an undisclosed middle school library for violent imagery. More…

Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

  • Location of key challenge: A high school in Guilford, Connecticut
  • Reason challenged: Profanity, course language, and brief non-sexual nudity

A high school teacher was forced to resign from his job after a parent filed both a complaint with the school and a police complaint against the teacher for lending a high school freshman a copy of Eightball #22, which was later published as the graphic novel Ice HavenMore…

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Nudity

In the Night Kitchen was not often removed from shelves; instead, librarians censored it by painting underwear or diapers over the genitals of the main character, a precocious child named Mickey. More…

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

  • Location of key challenge: Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky
  • Reason challenged: Sex scenes

Two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from circulation because they felt it was pornographic. More…

Maus by Art Spiegelman

  • Location of key challenge: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California
  • Reason challenged: Anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group

Nick Smith of the Pasadena Public Library describes the challenge as being “made by a Polish-American who is very proud of his heritage, and who had made other suggestions about adding books on Polish history… The thing is, Maus made him uncomfortable, so he didn’t want other people to read it. That is censorship, as opposed to parental guidance.” More…

Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

  • Location of key challenge: Greenville, South Carolina, public library
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite giving her 14-year-old daughter permission to check out the book, which was appropriately shelved in the adult section of the library, a mother filed a complaint, claiming the book was “pornographic.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, but it remains out of circulation pending review. More…

Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez

  • Location of key challenge: Rio Rancho, New Mexico
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content, child pornography

In early 2015, the critically acclaimed comic collection Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez was called “child porn” by the mother of a high school student in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. More…

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

Furor erupted in 2013 when Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. CPS backpedaled on the initial email, but the book was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and use in Grade 8 -10 classrooms now requires additional teacher training. Possibly as a result of publicity from the 2013 CPS ban, Persepolis faced three more school challenges in 2014, landing it the #2 spot on the American Library Association’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books for that year. More…

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite receiving high praise from the ALA and Booklist and featuring a cast consisting of animals, the book has been challenged at libraries for sexual content. More…

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

  • Location of Challenge: Apple iOS (2013), Oregon (2014)
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, and unsuited for age group.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples sci-fi epic adventure, Saga, has not only become one of the bestselling and most critically acclaimed comic series since its debut in March 2012, but it has also become one of the most controversial comics. More…

Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group

When asked about how he felt when Sandman was labelled unsuitable for teens, Gaiman responded, “I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandmanthan having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” More…

SideScrollers by Matthew Loux

  • Location of key challenge: Enfield, Connecticut, public school district
  • Reason challenged: Profanity and sexual references

The school district removed the book from non-compulsory summer reading lists, possibly violating its own review policy, which states in part that “no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book and is still awaiting a response from the school board. More…

Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

  • Location of key challenge: Dixfield, Maine, public school system
  • Reason challenged: Language, sexual content, and drug references

CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, and the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book. “While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” said Executive Director Charles Brownstein. More…

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

  • Location of key challenge: Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas
  • Reason challenged: Depiction of homosexuality

The book was challenged alongside 15 other young adult books with gay positive themes. The book was ultimately retained in the Montgomery County system, but was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult. More…

Tank Girl by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett

  • Location of key challenge: Hammond Public Library in Hammond, Indiana
  • Reason challenged: Nudity and violence

The Tank Girl books are meant to entertain an adult audience, frequently depicting violence, flatulence, vomiting, sex, and drug use. After the 2009 challenge, the Hammond Public Library chose to retain the book, and it remains on shelves today. More…

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content, unsuited to age group

Graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki broke boundaries by becoming the first graphic novel to make the short list for the Caldecott Medal. Unfortunately, the Caldecott honor yielded an unforeseen negative outcome: Since the announcement of the Caldecott honor, CBLDF has been confidentially involved in monitoring challenges to This One Summer in various communities. More…

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

  • Location of key challenge: Various
  • Reason challenged: Unsuited to age group

Watchmen received a Hugo Award in 1988 and was instrumental in garnering more respect and shelf space for comics and graphic novels in libraries and mainstream bookstores. The inclusion of Watchmen in school library collections has been challenged by parents at least twice, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual FreedomMore…

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

  • Location of key challenge: Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California
  • Reason challenged: Sexual content

In June 2015, Y: The Last Man was one of four graphic novels that a 20-year-old college student and her parents said should be “eradicated from the system” at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. After completing an English course on graphic novels, Tara Shultz publicly raised objections to PersepolisFun HomeY: The Last Man Vol. 1, and The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House as “pornography” and “garbage.” More…

Originally posted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Local Pastors Attempt to Ban Books from Banned Books Display at Maine Public Library

Banned books display at Rumford Public Library (via Twitter user Katje Fae @katjefae)

A group of pastors in Rumford, Maine are attempting to have LGBTQ books banned from the Rumford Public Library’s display of banned books. The library is holding a board meeting today, where the controversy will be discussed. The National Coalition Against Censorship and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund support Rumford Public Library’s display and freedom to choose how best to serve their community. NCAC and CBLDF oppose efforts to limit a whole community’s access to books based on the personal viewpoints or religious beliefs of some groups or individuals in that community. As public institutions, libraries are obligated not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or sexual orientation.

The display coincides with Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read, highlighting books that often draw challenges in schools and libraries. Half of the books on this year’s American Library Association Top 10 Banned Books list tell stories of LGBTQ characters. Books representing a wide variety of experiences and voices allow readers, particularly children, to find connection, safely explore unfamiliar ideas, and broaden their understanding of the world.

This article was originally posted by the National Coalition Against Censorship. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has posted additional information and a statement from Executive Director Charles Brownstein here.

Banned Spotlight: Thirteen Reasons Why

The most challenged book of 2017 was Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, a novel that has been a valuable tool in igniting conversations about suicide, bullying, and consent. The depiction of suicide was the primary reason for 2017 challenges. The book was also on the top ten list in 2012 for drug and alcohol use, sexual content, suicide, and being unsuited for age group.

Thirteen Reasons Why was released in 2007. The novel is a first person narrative told from the perspective of Clay, a high school boy who receives 13 tapes that fellow student Hannah Baker leaves behind after her suicide. Each tape is about a person who had some role in her suicide. The young adult novel was a New York Times bestseller for a combined 228 weeks, and it won a California Book Award Silver Medal (2008) and the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award (2010). YALSA named it a Best Book for Young Adults.

On March 31, 2017, Netflix released a 13-episode series based on the novel. Notably, the series deviated from the source material in several significant ways. The depiction of Hannah’s suicide was changed and much more graphic, as was the depiction of drug and alcohol use.

Many of the 2017 challenges to Thirteen Reasons Why were tied to the popularity of the Netflix series. The show debuted in late March, and shortly thereafter, several school districts around the country tried to ban the book. After a series of suicides on Colorado, the curriculum director of the Mesa Country School District pulled the book from circulation without following due process. It was returned after a review committee of librarians and counselors determined that the book wasn’t as graphic as the Netflix series. An elementary school in Florida banned the book from campus, even for personal reading, arguing that students weren’t mature enough to handle the depiction of suicide, profanity, sexual content, and drug use. The book was also pulled from middle school classrooms in Anderson County, Kentucky. Several school districts also cautioned parents against letting their children view the Netflix series.

Earlier this year, allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against Asher. The allegations were not a factor in challenges in 2017 and previous years. Jamie LaRue, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, addresses the controversy with Publishers Weekly.

Banned Books Week Coalition Events Calendar

The members of the Banned Books Week Coalition have a number of events planned for the annual celebration of the right read! Show your support for their efforts defending the right to read by attending any of these great events!

We will keep this calendar updated as more events are confirmed, so please check back!

More about the coalition: https://bannedbooksweek.org/coalition/

Weeklong Events (September 23-29)

Dear Banned Author Letter Writing Campaign

Dear Banned Author is a letter-writing campaign hosted by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. During Banned Books Week (September 23-29), readers are encouraged to write to their favorite banned or challenged authors, sharing what their stories meant to them. The goal of the campaign is to not only raise awareness of books that are threatened with censorship and support authors, but also encourage thoughtful discussions about the power of words and how essential it is to have access to a variety of viewpoints in libraries. Authors also have shared fan letters as support when there’s a public challenge to their books.

ALA OIF has a number of tools to facilitate programming around the Dear Banned Author Letter-Writing Campaign at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/dear-banned-author

Project Censored

Project Censored will celebrate Banned Books Week with several guests representing a variety of perspectives on censorship and advocacy for the right to read. Find the show at the Project Censored website, https://projectcensored.org/, during Banned Books Week.

September 16

#NCTEchat
Twitter, 8:00 p.m. ET

Hosts Teri Lesesne (@ProfessorNana) and Gretchen Oltman (@Dr_Oltman) tackle the topic of Banning Books Silences Stories in this Twitter-based conversation.

September 23

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—San Francisco, California
Phoenix Theatre, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. PT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works. https://pen.org/event/banned-together-san-francisco/

Rebellion Fun — Banned Books Week 
Hillsboro Brookwood Library Community Room, Hillsboro, Oregon, 3:00 – 4:00 pm. PT 

It’s the start of Banned Books Week, so come in for some rebellion fun. Take pictures with banned and challenged books. Find out about defending comic books and the First Amendment with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Enjoy food, games, and prizes! https://www.hillsboro-oregon.gov/departments/library

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Baltimore, Maryland
Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. ET

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, presents Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret. Join WYPR’s Tom Hall and talented local singers in a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America’s stages, created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Fun Home, Spring Awakening, and The Laramie Project, among other notable works, with a libretto by DLDF President John Weidman. Light refreshments will be provided. https://pen.org/event/banned-together-baltimore-md/

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-2018-baltimore-tickets-48845131102

September 24

Banned Together
Joe’s Pub, New York, New York, 7:00 p.m. ET

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works. https://www.dldf.org/bannedtogether/

Tickets: https://www.publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/Joes-Pub/2018/B/Banned-Together/

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Boston, Massachusetts
Boston Public Library, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works, with contextual commentary by DLDF president John Weidman. Award winning director Ilyse Robbins will be directing the evening alongside a terrific cast.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-2018-boston-tickets-48878112751

September 25

Speaking Out: Voicing Movements in the Face of Censorship
Webinar, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT

Join the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, SAGE Publishing, and Index on Censorship for “Speak Out: Voicing Movements in the Face of Censorship.” In this Banned Books Week webinar, authors will engage in conversation on writing, activism, and speaking out. How have they used their words to speak out about something that has been silenced? What is the difference between being a voice of and for a movement? And what will it take for America to be censorship free in both oral and written word?

Our featured speakers include:

  • Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of various fiction works including Little & Lion, a story that touches on the intersection of race, sexuality, and religion
  • Alex Gino, author of George, an award-winning and heartwarming middle grade book about a transgender girl
  • Marni Brown, acclaimed author of Gendered Lives, Sexual Beings, a textbook lauded for its intersectional framework, and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Georgia Gwinnett College

The webinar will be moderated by Jemimah Steinfield, Deputy Editor of the award-winning Index on Censorship magazine.

Register for the webinar at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6749024865921094915

Image Comics Livestream: Pornsak Pichetshote
Twitch, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association by producing a week of Library Livestreams featuring creators Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK, Lumberjanes), Pornsak Pichetshote (INFIDEL), Charles Soule (CURSE WORDS), and Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, BULLY WARS, MIDDLEWEST).

Simply visit the Image Comics Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/imagecomics. All webinars will run from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST and will include a discussion between moderator and creator for 40-45 minutes; followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A participation with live audience. No registration is required to view these livestreams.

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Buffalo, New York
Nichols School, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works. Buffalo, NY, based actor, director, and theatre educator Kristen Tripp Kelley will direct Nichols high school students and alumni in a collection of previously censored scenes and songs. The ensemble is proud to join with Banned Together artists and citizens around the country in the promotion of our freedom of expression.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-2018-western-new-york-tickets-48878975331

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—St. Louis, Missouri
Tesseract Theatre, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. CT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-st-louis-tickets-49681392382

September 26

Drag Queen Story Hour Reads Banned Books
Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, New York, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET

Drag Queen Story Hour is just what it sounds like–drag queens read children’s books and lead creative activities promoting imagination and freedom of self-expression. In honor of Banned Books Week, we’ll be reading books from the ALA’s Top Ten Banned Books of 2017 list. Half of the books on the list were challenged for LGBTQ themes, so this story hour could not be more needed to ensure that these important stories are not silenced. Co-hosted by Drag Queen Story Hour and the National Coalition Against Censorship. All families are welcome to join us at the Brooklyn Public Library! https://www.facebook.com/events/721323064882141/

Image Comics Livestream: Nick Dragotta
Twitch, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association by producing a week of Library Livestreams featuring creators Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK, Lumberjanes), Pornsak Pichetshote (INFIDEL), Charles Soule (CURSE WORDS), and Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, BULLY WARS, MIDDLEWEST).

Simply visit the Image Comics Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/imagecomics. All webinars will run from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST and will include a discussion between moderator and creator for 40-45 minutes; followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A participation with live audience. No registration is required to view these livestreams.

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Golden, Colorado
Miners Alley Playhouse, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. MT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works. https://pen.org/event/banned-together-denver-co/

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Los Angeles, California
Skylight Theatre, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. PT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-a-censorship-cabaret-tickets-50217324369

September 27

Image Comics Livestream: Grace Ellis
Twitch, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association by producing a week of Library Livestreams featuring creators Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK, Lumberjanes), Pornsak Pichetshote (INFIDEL), Charles Soule (CURSE WORDS), and Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, BULLY WARS, MIDDLEWEST).

Simply visit the Image Comics Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/imagecomics. All webinars will run from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST and will include a discussion between moderator and creator for 40-45 minutes; followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A participation with live audience. No registration is required to view these livestreams.

September 28

Image Comics Livestream: Charles Soule
Twitch, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association by producing a week of Library Livestreams featuring creators Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK, Lumberjanes), Pornsak Pichetshote (INFIDEL), Charles Soule (CURSE WORDS), and Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, BULLY WARS, MIDDLEWEST).

Simply visit the Image Comics Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/imagecomics. All webinars will run from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST and will include a discussion between moderator and creator for 40-45 minutes; followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A participation with live audience. No registration is required to view these livestreams.

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Dallas, Texas
Bishop Arts Theatre Center, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. CT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). A provocative cabaret-style performance showcasing excerpts from Tony Award-winning plays and musicals such as Rent, Cabaret, Fun Home, and Angels in America, these productions are widely challenged by those who desire to censor the literary community due to the content and/or language of works. However, they will find their voices again on the Bishop Arts Theatre Center stage. Working with the TNT (Teenagers And Theatre) Apprenticeship program, Banned Together educates teen and adult audiences of how theatre and the arts can inspire conversations, activism, and challenge our mindsets. Directed by Korey Parker.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-2018-dallas-tickets-48878347453

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Atlanta, Georgia
Out Front Theater Company, 8:00 -10:00 p.m. ET

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works.

Tickets: https://tickets.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?e=b69f4f04b5cec4a060a9a4ffd2b9bf25&t=tix&vqitq=02bf18a3-b1b5-4f93-9f47-f1596721936e&vqitp=8349b7d9-9b91-48d9-b960-579fb194ea34&vqitts=1536412162&vqitc=vendini&vqite=itl&vqitrt=Safetynet&vqith=a9679f9cd65ff

September 29

Image Comics Livestream: Skottie Young
Twitch, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Image Comics is celebrating Banned Books Week with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table of the American Library Association by producing a week of Library Livestreams featuring creators Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Grace Ellis (MOONSTRUCK, Lumberjanes), Pornsak Pichetshote (INFIDEL), Charles Soule (CURSE WORDS), and Skottie Young (I HATE FAIRYLAND, BULLY WARS, MIDDLEWEST).

Simply visit the Image Comics Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/imagecomics. All webinars will run from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EST and will include a discussion between moderator and creator for 40-45 minutes; followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A participation with live audience. No registration is required to view these livestreams.

Riverhead Pop-Up Reading Room: Banned Books Week
Brooklyn, New York, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET

 

You’re invited to the latest installment of Riverhead’s open-air, thematically curated pop-up reading rooms! September’s pop-up is in honor of Banned Books Week; join us in celebrating the freedom to read as we feature books and authors from the Riverhead collection that have been challenged in schools and libraries around the country, or address themes or topics that inspire passionate discussion, from startling subversions of religion in Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed novel The Kite Runner to profoundly honest explorations of sexuality and oppression in Garrard Conley’s memoir Boy Erased. Throughout the day, peruse books that start essential conversations: our shelves will be stocked with Mohsin Hamid’s heartrending and inventive Exit West, R.O. Kwon’s explosive The Incendiaries, and Patricia Lockwood’s equal parts saucy and sublime Priestdaddy. Younger readers are encouraged to attend and get lost in wonderfully original and illuminating titles like John Green’s Looking for Alaska, David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and many more titles courtesy of our friends at Random House Children’s Books and Penguin Young Readers.

Stop by the pop-up to read, to engage with fellow readers about the vital need for books that generate debate and deeper reflection, and take part in Banned Books Week activities that amplify the stories and voices of those that need to be heard today. The pop-up will ask visitors to consider the question: What would it be like to live in a world without open access to ideas and literature? There will be sponsored snacks and beverages available on-site, and a chance to win Riverhead totes filled with signed copies of the hottest new books by Riverhead authors Khaled Hosseini (including his latest illustrated novel Sea Prayer), Meg Wolitzer, and Lauren Groff, as well as a custom Penguin Random House Banned Books Box.

More info: https://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/events/riverhead-pop-up-reading-room-banned-books-week

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Houston, Texas
Queensbury Theatre, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. CT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Fun Home, Spring Awakening, and The Laramie Project, among other notable works. Join Producing Executive Director, Marley Singletary, who will direct Equity actors and Tribble School for the Performing Arts students, in this celebration of songs and scenes. The pieces will be linked with a libretto by DLDF president John Weidman.

September 30

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Nashville, Tennessee
Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. PT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works. Artistic director, Vali Forrister, with Actor’s Bridge Ensemble will host the Nashville, Tennessee regional production. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 pm. The piece will be performed by approximately 14 local actors and directed by Kim Bretton.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-a-censorship-cabaret-tickets-49956424009

October 1

BANNED: Artists & Censorship
Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET

Join us for a question and answer panel featuring author Kathy MacMillan, illustrator Sara Lautman, and Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The panel will discuss the First Amendment, the arts, intellectual freedom, and advice for artists who find their work challenged. A question and answer session will follow the discussion.

The event will be held in room 107 of the CALT building on AACC’s west campus off West Campus Drive when accessed from Governor Ritchie Highway. Room 107 is on the lowest level of the CALT building.
https://www.facebook.com/events/496264937448874/

October 2

Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret—Chicago, Illinois
Victory Gardens, 7:30 – 9:30 CT

Join the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, in partnership with PEN America, as they present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret during Banned Books Week 2018 (September 23-29). This lively celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on the American stage raises awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in theater. The performances will feature selections from Chicago, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Rent, and Angels in America, among other notable works, with a libretto by John Weidman (Assassins, Pacific Overtures), and J.T. Rogers (Oslo, Blood and Gifts). Ray Frewen will direct the program, with musical direction by Diana Lawrence. https://www.dldf.org/bannedtogether/

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/banned-together-2018-chicago-tickets-48878217063

 

Banned Spotlight: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has appeared on ALA’s top ten challenged books list six times since its 2007 publication. In 2017, it held the #2 slot on the list due to challenges based on profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

The protagonist and first-person narrator of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is 14-year-old Arnold Spirit Jr, or Junior. The budding cartoonist lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and he leaves the rez to attend an all-white high school. Alexie drew from his own experiences for the novel, which addresses themes of racial identity, coming of age, bullying, violence, poverty, and more with Alexie’s characteristic humor. Artist Ellen Forney provided illustrations for the novel. In addition to winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, True Diary also win the Horn Book Award and the California Young Reader Medal. School Library Journal named it a best book of 2007 and the Young Adult Library Services Association included it among their Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults.

In 2017, a school board in Nome, Alaska, eliminated True Diary from an alternative reading list for high school students. It was removed along with Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and was the only novel of the four restored after a contentious school board meeting. The removals happened as a result of a single parent’s complaint about content in the books.

In 2017, it was also challenged in Alton, Illinois; Thousand Oaks, California; Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin; and the New London-Spicer Schools in Minnesota. Reasons for the challenges varied from “shocking words of profanity, sexual innuendo and violence” to “gratuitous and unnecessary” profanity and reference to sexual acts. The challenges were eventually defeated in these four cases.

Earlier this year, allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against Alexie. The allegations were not a factor in challenges in 2017 and previous years. Jamie LaRue, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, addresses the controversy with Publishers Weekly.

Banned Spotlight: Drama

One would think there wouldn’t be much controversy around a bestselling graphic novel about a middle school play — a graphic novel that includes no profanity, drug or alcohol use, or sexual content. But Raina Telgemeier’s acclaimed and immensely popular Drama has been on the hit lists of a number of would-be censors, who claim the book is offensive because it includes LGBTQ characters. Drama held the #3 spot on ALA’s top ten challenged books list in 2017, and it also had the dubious honor of appearing on the 2016 list for offensive political viewpoint and the 2014 list for being sexually explicit.

Callie, the protagonist of Drama, loves the theater, but she’s no singer, so she’s the set designer for her school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. But she doesn’t know much about carpentry, and there’s no way she can afford Broadway production on a middle-school budget. Callie befriends two cute twin brothers: Justin, who is openly gay, and Jesse, who is still struggling with his sexual identity. In the course of the story, Jesse ends up assuming a female role in the play because the original actress cannot perform, and he shares a chaste kiss on stage with another male character.

Drama, which was published in 2012, won the Stonewall Honor and was nominated for a Harvey Award. It was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and The Washington Post. The New Times and Booklist included it on their Editor’s Choice lists, and NPR named it a great summer read for teens.

Drama has been banned on multiple occasions in Texas. The state ACLU releases an annual banned books report, usually in conjunction with Banned Books Week. In the 2016-17 school year, Drama was the only banned book in the Texas ACLU’s findings. It was removed from the Franklin Independent School District. It was also banned from Chapel Hill Elementary in Mount Pleasant in 2014-15, as well as Kirbyville Middle School in 2015-16.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has also helped defuse a number of potential challenges to the book and provides resources in support of it:

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

 

 

 

Banned Spotlight: The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed debut novel The Kite Runner has sold millions of copies and inspired a popular film, but the book has been met with several challenges since its 2003 release. In 2017, it was the fourth most challenged book according to the American Library Association. It was challenged for sexual violence, and Islamophobia fueled some challenges, with would-be censors arguing that the novel would inspire terrorism and promoted Islam. The book also appeared on the top ten lists for 2014 (offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence), 2012 (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit), and 2008 (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group).

The protagonist of The Kite Runner is Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman, who befriends Hassan, the son of one of his father’s servants, in 1970s Afghanistan. The story transitions in time between pre-revolution Afghanistan and the 1990s, when Amir, now a successful novelist in the United States, learns that Hassan and his wife have been killed by the Taliban. As Amir sets out to Kabul to rescue Hassan’s son Sohrab, he contends with the repercussions of his childhood betrayal of Hassan. Since publication, the book has been embraced in educational settings as a way to address the abuse of power, themes of redemption, the immigrant experience, and Afghani history.

In 2017, The Kite Runner was notably challenged in two locales. The book was suddenly pulled from the curriculum district-wide in Gilbert, Arizona, when the Hugley Unified School District informed teachers that the book would not longer be used in classrooms or for independent reading shortly before Grade 10 honors English students were set to begin studying it. A reason wasn’t given, and the school claimed that it was because the book hadn’t been properly vetted, but student journalists determined otherwise, learning that the book had been approved and in use for five years already. The book did not undergo district review processes.

Later in the year, a school board member in Fishers, Indiana, vocally protested the inclusion of The Kite Runner in AP Literature and Composition courses after her daughter had been assigned the novel. Unlike Gilbert, the district undertook the appropriate challenge and review policies. The Kite Runner has also been challenged in North Carolina and Wisconsin, and it was recently red-flagged in California in violation of state law.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: George

Alex Gino’s George is an inspiring middle grades read that calls on its young readers to be who you are, but some have found the content of the book offensive because the book’s young protagonist is transgender. The book appeared in the number five slot on ALA’s top ten challenged books for 2017, and it was also included on the 2016 list.

When people look at fourth grader George, they see a boy, but George knows she’s a girl named Melissa. She has resigned herself to living with the secret until her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web gives her the chance to reveal who she really is. George, which was released in late 2015, has been widely lauded for its moving portrayal of a transgender child. Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal gave the book starred reviews, and it won the Lambda Literary Award, Stonewall Award, Children’s Choice Debut Author Award, and the Gold Medal for juvenile fiction in the California Book Awards. George was also on best of the year lists from Kirkus, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

In 2017, the Wichita, Kansas, school system decided against including George in district libraries, citing language and references that are inappropriate for young children in their reasoning. Administrators prevented district librarians from using system funds to purchase the book, and Gino took to Twitter to raise enough money to purchase copies of the book for the district’s 57 elementary and K-8 school libraries. It took less than an hour to do so.

In 2016, author Phil Binder was disinvited from presenting at Round Rock, Texas, schools after reading excerpts from George, and it looks like the book may also earn a spot on the top ten challenged titles of 2018 list. Early this year, One Million Moms, an offshoot of the hate group American Family Association, called on its followers to contact Scholastic to demand that the publisher discontinue printing the book. In May, two Oregon school districts decided not to participate in the state’s Battle of the Books elective independent reading program because George was among the titles on the list of books.

Gino has been very active in defending George. During Banned Books Week, Gino will be participating in “Speak Out: Voicing Movements in the Face of Cenorship,” a webinar from ALA’s Office for Inteelectual Freedom, SAGE Publishing, and Index on Censorship. Find out more here.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: Sex Is a Funny Word

In a country where sex education remains an eternally contentious subject, it’s no surprise to see Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s award-winning Sex Is a Funny Word on ALA’s top ten challenged books list. It landed in the number six spot after would-be censors trotted out the specter of sex education fueling interest in the act by claiming that the book would make children “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

Silverberg is a sex educator and author who develops and presents workshops addressing gender expression and identity, sexuality, and related topics. He wrote Sex Is a Funny Word, which includes lively comics by Smyth, as a resource addressing gender and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10. The book has been widely praised for showcasing diverse bodies, abilities, and gender identities and for honestly addressing sex and sexuality as it pertains to youth. Since its publication in 2015, Sex Is a Funny Word has received a Stonewall Book Award honor, been included among the top ten choices on the Rainbow Project Book List, and named an ALA Notable Children’s Book.

Details on specific challenges are scarce or have been kept confidential, but Claudette Riley, a journalist in Springfield, Missouri, did discover that Sex Is a Funny Word was included among 36 censorship incidents in the state since 2014. It was challenged for sex education.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has a long history with censorship. It holds the seventh slot in the American Library Association’s top ten most challenged and banned books list for 2017, and it also appeared on the 2009 and 2011 lists. It has been challenged for the depiction of violence, offensive language, and racism.

To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960, is told from the perspective of 6-year-old Jean Louise Finch, whose father Atticus defends Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, in court during the Great Depression. Despite proving that Tom is innocent, the jury convicts him of the crime. The book explores themes of racial injustice, gender roles, and the loss of innocence. It has been a perennial bestseller since its release and won the Pulitzer Prize. It was also adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962.

In 2017, To Kill a Mockingbird was removed mid-lesson from 8th grade classrooms in Biloxi, Mississippi, over complaints about language in the book, in particular the use of the N-word. The parent who filed the complaint was concerned about her daughter, who is black, and her classmates’ response to the book, which reportedly included laughter over the use of the slur. The complainant did not ask for the removal of the book, and the actions of school officials appeared to be in violation of the district’s materials reconsideration policy. The district maintained the act wasn’t censorship because the novel remained available in school libraries. After protest from free speech advocates, the book was restored to optional reading lists, but parental permission is required to read it.

In early 2018, To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were removed from required reading in the Duluth, Minnesota, school district over the use of racial slurs. The removal wasn’t triggered by a specific challenge in this case, instead resulting from the accumulation of complaints over the course of several years. District teachers were not consulted in the decision. Free expression advocates protested the unilateral removal, calling on the district to include those best positioned to make decisions about educational content in future curricula review.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: The Hate U Give

The buzz for Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give came well in advance of its publication. The young adult novel debuted to rave reviews, won several awards, and sat atop The New York Times bestseller list for 50 weeks. But the story about black teen Starr Williams, who witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend, has drawn the attention of would-be censors, who have attacked it for being “pervasively vulgar” and for the depiction of drug use, profanity, and offensive language. Released in early 2017, the book landed in the eighth spot on the American Library Association’s top ten challenged and banned books list.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give addresses issues of racism and police violence as witnessed by Starr, a 16-year-old girl who navigates between her poverty-stricken neighborhood and the wealthy suburban prep school she attends. She is the sole witness to the police shooting of her best friend Kahlil, who is unarmed but may or may not have been a drug dealer. In addition to starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Horn Book Magazine, and more, The Hate You Give won the Coretta Scott King Honor, Michael L. Printz Honor, William C. Morris Award, and more. It was also longlisted for the National Book Award, and a cinematic adaptation of the book is scheduled for release in late 2018.

In late 2017, The Hate U Give was banned by school officials in Katy, Texas, where it was challenged for “inappropriate language.” District Superintendent Lance Hindt pulled the book from shelves during the review process in violation of the district’s own review policies, claiming he did so based on its “pervasive vulgarity and racially-insensitive language…not its substantive content or the viewpoint expressed.” The move drew widespread condemnation from free expression advocates, but the actions of a teen in the district helped save the day. Ny’Shira Lundy collected 4,000 signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of the book. The district relented and put it back on shelves, but it wasn’t a total victory. Students are required to get parental permission to check it out.

The Hate U Give appears to be on track for a spot on next year’s top ten challenged and banned books list. This summer, the book was challenged, alongside Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s acclaimed All American Boys, by the Fraternal Order of Police in Charleston, South Carolina, where the books are part of the Wando High School summer reading list. President of the Fraternal Order John Blackmon, says that the books are “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.” Once again, several members of the Banned Books Week Coalition have stepped up to defend the book, which is going through the district’s formal review process.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: And Tango Makes Three

The ninth entry in the American Library Association’s 2017 top ten challenged and banned books list is old hat at censorship. And Tango Makes Three has appeared on the list a whopping eight times — in 2017, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 — for challenges that mostly distill down to the book’s depiction of a same-sex relationship between penguins (“unsuited to age group,” “anti-family,” and the head-scratching accusation of being “anti-ethnic” have also popped up in challenges).

Written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson with art by Henry Cole, And Tango Makes Three is an illustrated children’s book that tells the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo that built a nest together, took turns brooding an egg, and raised Tango, the female chick that hatched. The book, which was published in 2005, subsequently garnered critical acclaim, including starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, and several awards, such as recognition as an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Book of the Year, and being listed as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.

Staff at libraries and schools found themselves facing a conundrum when the debate over the content of the book resulted in challenges. Some tried to address it by moving it from the picture book section to the less popular nonfiction section. Others moved it to areas of the library restricted to adults. It was pulled from several elementary schools, but many challenges have been defeated, ensuring the book remains in circulation.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

Banned Spotlight: I Am Jazz

Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most challenged and banned books. In 2017, the tenth book on that list was Jazz Jennings’ autobiographical picture book I Am Jazz, which was co-written by Jessica Herthel and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas. The teenaged television personality and LGBTQ activist wanted to share her real-life story as a transgender child, but some have challenged the work because it addresses gender identity.

I Am Jazz explores Jennings’ struggle with having “a girl brain but a boy body,” and her family’s confusion over and acceptance of her gender identity. The book was published in 2014, and it also appeared on the 2015 top ten list after a challenge in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, caused a nation-wide furor.

In 2017, I Am Jazz was challenged at Rocklin Academy Gateway in California after the book was read aloud in a kindergarten class. The school has a policy in which students can bring in books from home to be read aloud. A student in the class was undergoing gender transition, and she brought in the copy of I Am Jazz that was read to the class. Several parents subsequently removed their children from the school and called for a policy that allowed them to keep their children from sharing a classroom with a transgender student.

The school stood behind their book policy, affirming the inclusion of LGBTQ literature in classrooms, and administrators rightly decided not to add the requested “opt out” policy, which would have been tantamount to illegal discrimination. Unfortunately, the administration chose to add a red flagging policy that would forewarn parents about potentially “controversial” material, which could invite future complaints and disrupt the educational process.

Find more of ALA OIF’s top ten challenged and banned lists here.

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Names Ten Most Challenged Books of 2017

In recognition of National Library Week, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has published their annual list of the ten most frequently challenged and banned books, along with an analysis of the censorship threats facing U.S. schools and libraries.

In 2017, the following books were among the most frequently attacked:

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (Reason: Suicide)
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Reasons: Profanity, Sexually Explicit)
  3. Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (Reason: LGBT Content)
  4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Reasons: Sexual Violence, Religious Themes, “May Lead to Terrorism”)
  5. George, by Alex Gino (Reason: LGBT Content)
  6. Sex is a Funny Word, written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth (Reason: Sex Education)
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (Reasons: Violence, Racial Slurs)
  8. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Reasons: Drug Use, Profanity, “Pervasively Vulgar”)
  9. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole (Reason: LGBT Content)
  10. I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas (Reason: Gender Identity)

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Names Ten Most Challenged Books of 2017ALA OIF also noted the following trends in challenges over the last year:

  • The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials and services (including books, DVDs, magazines, programs, databases, games, exhibits, displays) in 2017:
    • In those 354 challenges, 416 books were targeted.
    • In total, 491 library materials were challenged.
  • Books on the Top 10 list have a child, teen or young adult audience.
  • OIF is seeing an increase in “blanket bans”: removing collections of books that share commonalities. For example, removing all LGBT books, books by a certain author, or all R-rated DVDs.
  • OIF is noticing more censorship incidents where administrators remove books without following policy because they are trying to (unsuccessfully) avoid controversy.
  • Ten years after its publication, Thirteen Reasons Why resurged to the top of the list, largely because of the popularity (and criticism) of the Netflix series.

To find out more, visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10 and read the State of America’s Libraries Report 2018 here.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10

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