Tag: sherman alexie

Let Freedom Read: A Celebration of Banned Books

For the the first time, Banned Books Week, a campaign launched in 1982 in response to increased numbers of challenges to books in schools, libraries and bookstores, will include Alexandria-area  writers and readers at a new local event titled “Let Freedom Read: A Celebration of Banned Books.” 

The celebration will include short readings from books by authors as diverse as James Baldwin and Judy Blume, Sinclair Lewis and Zora Neal Hurston. The event is free and will include refreshments and door prizes. The fun begins at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 6, at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria (503 Broadway Street).

The event is hosted by local author Michael Tisserand.

ALA Releases Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 List

Today, the American Library Association (ALA) kicked off National Library Week with the release of its highly anticipated list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 and the State of America’s Libraries Report, which tells the story of how libraries are innovating and adapting to improve the well-being of their communities in the midst of censorship challenges. This year, however, there were multiple books that received the same number of challenges – resulting in the expansion of the list to 13 titles.

Libraries in every state faced another year of unprecedented attempts to ban books. In 2022, ALA tracked the highest number of censorship reports since the association began compiling data about library censorship more than 20 years ago. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. Most of the targeted books were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.

“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.

It’s time to take action on behalf of authors, library staff, and the communities they serve. ALA calls on readers everywhere to show your commitment to the freedom to read by doing something to protect it.”

Below are the most Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022:

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: depiction of sexual abuse, claimed to be sexually explicit, EDI content
  1. Flamer by Mike Curato
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) Looking for Alaska by John Green
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content
  1. (TIE) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, LGBTQIA+ content, depiction of sexual abuse, drugs, profanity
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit
  1. (TIE) Crank by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, drugs
  1. (TIE) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Reasons: Claimed to be sexually explicit, profanity
  1. (TIE) This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson
    Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, sex education, claimed to be sexually explicit

Top 10 artwork is available for download at: https://bit.ly/ALA-Top10

In response to the uptick in book challenges and other efforts to suppress access to information, ALA has designated every Monday of National Library Week moving forward as Right to Read Day, a day of action that encourages communities to fight back against censorship and to protect and celebrate the right to read freely. This year’s National Library Week also marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Unite Against Book Bans, a nationwide initiative that empowers readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. More information is available at uniteagainstbookbans.org.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.

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.