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Friday Fun: Banned Books Week

Good morning and happy Friday readers! We've made it to the end of another week, and where I am on the globe, the morning air is Crisp , the sun is shining, and it's Halloween 1st. My favorite time of year. And, in case you missed it, this is also the tail end of Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign, born from the fight against hate, ignorance, and bigotry, embracing the freedom to read and the books that inspire and speak to us. The first Banned Books Week took place in 1982 and is traditionally held in the last week of September. The idea behind Banned Books Week is to:

"Stress the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions."

Not all banned books may present viewpoints and ideals you might agree with, though the bulk of banned books often center around marginalized perspectives. Some books are banned for arbitrary reasons, citing what proponents deem 'negative' and 'inappropriate' content for the youth, while ignoring the cultural insight and impact these reads have on their readers. In the resources and further reading below, I've linked the database for banned books, which also states the reasons why. I encourage you to explore the list, and hopefully, try out a few reads yourself.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas is one of the most challenged & banned books in the United States. No one can deny what an incredible cultural impact this book has had since its release. As of 2020 it is still one of the top 10 most challenged books. Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is also on the list for the most challenged books in 2020, still. It's been a main stay on the top 10 most challenge for a good 20 years. The late great Toni Morrison wrote some of the greatest books of this century, her gorgeous prose entwining the reader in a viewpoint many had not experienced before. Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.

Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia is one of those books that has a lasting impact if you happen to read it as a kid. This was probably one of the first honest and open depictions of grief and loss I encountered in reading and Jesse's raw emotions still echo in my memory. This was also one of the most challenged books of 2003. The publishing landscape has changed in the last 20 years but it was a surprise to see why this book was challenged.

Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language.

The popularity explosion of graphic novels onto the literary landscape brought some incredible gems, including Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, a mostly autobiographical story of the author's life in Iran & Austria during and after the Islamic Revolution.

Reasons why this book was one of the most challenged of 2014?

Reasons: Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”.

Are we even surprised this is one of the most challenged books? The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood presents a harrowing view of what should be a completely unrealistic future. And yet...

What's more concerning? It was one of the most challenged books of 2019. With current events in the world, Atwood's grim version of the future doesn't seem so out there. Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”.

Resources & Further Reading

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