BANNED BOOKS WEEK!
September 23-29, 2018
Banned Book Week – typically held the last week in September – was launched in 1982 – in order to bring attention to a surge of challenges that schools, bookstores and libraries were getting. The purpose of this week is to highlight the value of free and open access to information and the freedom to read. Banned Books Week brings the entire book community together – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers.
You may have heard both the terms”banned books,” and “challenged books.” There is a difference between the two terms. A challenged book is an attempt to remove or restrict materials – either by a group or an individual who objects to the material. It does not mean a person or group simply expresses their point of view, but actively attempts to remove the material from circulation. Because banning a book is the actual removal of the materials, the access of others is restricted. Put simply, a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials and banning is the actual removal of those materials.
According to the ALA, books are usually challenged with good intentions – protecting others (usually children) from ideas and information which may be difficult. Over the years many different types of groups, and people, have challenged books. ALA has a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books. ALA believes that for every reported challenge, four or five go unreported. In 2016 there were 323 challenges recorded by the Office of Intellectual Freedom. Surveys indicate that between 82 and 97% of book challenges go unreported and receive no media coverage.
The good news is that in a majority of cases the books still remain available. This is due in part to the awareness that Banned Books Week brings to this issue!
New books are added to the challenged and banned lists every year – and some never make it off the list (Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are two examples). Many of the banned books are novels, but a number of science books have also been challenged.
Many classic books have been banned. According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts. Click here to see which books these are and learn the reasons for which they are banned or challenged.
Here are a few of the many books related to Engineering and Science which have been banned at one time or another:
- Any writing or discussion demonstrating the heliocentric nature of the universe was banned in 17th Century Europe.
- Writings by physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei were banned and he was charged and convicted of heresy by the Inquisition in 1632 for writing, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
- Books and teaching materials on Darwinian evolution theory, including The Illustrated Origin of Species by Charles Darwin were banned in schools in Tennessee following the Butler Act of 1925.
- The Menifee School District in California banned Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. It was banned for having definitions that were too explicit.
- The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, written in 1960 by Robert Brent and illustrated by Harry Lazarus was banned in the United States for being too accurate in its scientific initiative.
- Books and materials on Mendelian genetics have been banned from publication in Soviet-era USSR
Read a banned book today!!
Top Ten Most Challenged Books Lists. 2017. Banned & Challenged Books. American Library Association.
Researching Banned or Challenged Books: Resources for Challenge Research. Aug. 7, 2017. LibGuides. American Library Association.
Challenged and Banned Books. American Library Association. Date accessed Sept. 20, 2018.
Baron, Dennis. Webster’s banned for too much sex. Jan. 25, 2010. The Web of Language.
The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 and Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type and Year. 2018. ALA. American Library Association.
25 Banned Books That You Should Read Today. March 2011. Learn.org
Chambers, Robert. 1846. Vestiges of the natural history of creation. E-Book available through The University of Iowa Libraries.
For more information on the challenge/ban of Winnie-the-Pooh: Researching Banned or Challenged Books: Ban Pooh? LibGuides. American Library Association Aug. 7, 2017.