America celebrates Banned Books week every year to highlight the right to read. This year the celebration is being joined by authors and readers in the UK. The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities. Banned Books Week 2016 will explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out.
Banned Books Week was started in 1982 to highlight the uprising of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries in the US. Since then, according to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged.
This year, a first in the UK, the British Library, the Free Word Centre and Islington council in London are also participating in Banned Book Week. Book clubs and reading groups will be discussing a list of 40 books that have been scrutinized and marked for censorship.
Censors are increasingly focusing on books that represent diverse points of view, limiting us and our world view. The top ten most challenged books of 2015 include:
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
- The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
- Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
So pick up a Banned Book, participate in Banned Book Events near you. Read a little or a lot and join the ranks to show the world that you have the RIGHT to read! What books will you be reading this week? Tell me all about on Facebook and Twitter!