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Banned Books Week

As children across the United States begin a new academic year, teachers are sending out their lists of required readings, and parents and students are beginning to gather books. However, in some cases, classics like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” and “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” which many of us read in high school or junior high, may not be included in curriculum or available in the school library due to challenges made by parents or administrators.

Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 7,800 book challenges, including 458 in 2003. A challenge is a written request that a book be removed from library shelves or a school’s curriculum.

However, thanks librarians, teachers, parents, and students, most challenges are unsuccessful and the potentially banned books remain readily available.

The reading materials most often challenged and/or restricted have been children’s books. Nevertheless, challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation behind the ban or challenge is with good intentions, the outcome is still detrimental. For children, it?s their parents ? the people who know them best ? who should decide what they read, and encourage them to do so.

The ALA is sponsoring Banned Books Week in the United States, taking place September 27-October 4. Now in its 27th year, the week is an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. This year?s theme is “Elect to Read a Banned Book.” Support our freedom to read freely and buy or check out from the library a banned book this year ? then read it to your child or to yourself. Some of the most frequently banned books include: ?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? by Mark Twain, ?The Color Purple? by Alice Walker and ?The Golden Compass? by Philip Pullman.

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