"Banned Books Week" Comes to Napa

Censorship is alive and well, as highlighted by Banned Books Week—and you might be surprised by who the most vocal challengers of books are. Plus, check out these videos of Napa County Library staff reading from banned books.

The importance of the First Amendment and the concept of "intellectual freedom" might not always be readily apparent to most kids, but Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to make those lessons come alive for children—and adults.

Banned Books Week is held annually during the last week of Sept. (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012). The week is an occasion for libraries and bookstores across the U.S. to help folks realize just how real and ongoing a problem censorship is.

The Napa County Library has created a "Virtual Read-In" on its YouTube channel, with library director Danis Kreimeier, teen librarian James Mah, children's librarian Cailin Yeager and other staffers reading from banned books including The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

At Copperfield's Books Sunday afternoon, Napa Valley College instructor and Napa Valley Unified School District trustee Carlos Hagedorn and students/members of Napa Valley Ethnic Studies Advocates (NVESA) will speak about from to 6 p.m.

More than 11,000 books have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982, the inaugural year of Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the vast majority of challenges to books are initiated locally by parents, likely in well-meaning attempts to protect their children. 

Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.

Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle 

2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa

3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

8. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

If you’re interested in celebrating Banned Books Week as part of a lesson for your kids—or simply to feel like a rebellious reader—check out these additional resources:

TELL US: Do you think books should be banned from schools, bookstores or libraries? What kind of books?

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Derry September 29, 2012 at 04:11 PM
If there ever was a book deserving of being banned, it's the Bible. It contains sexism, racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, violence, polygamy, sexual explicitness..... the list goes on. However, I feel that people should be able to read what they wish and should not be able to impose their beliefs on others. What a concept. I don't even support banning books such as Mein Kampf. What better way to understand the twisted minds of madmen. Knowledge is power, and an educated citizenry is our best defense against tyranny.
Belle (Orchid Lady) September 29, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Great comment Derry!!!!


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