Celebrate Banned Books Week
Despite the Constitution’s First Amendment to protect freedom of speech and the press from government suppression, the works of some of the world’s greatest writers have been denounced and readers denied access to their books. A short list from the 19th through the 21st century would include Mark Twain, Jack London, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Mitchell, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, J.K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Ralph Ellison, and Maurice Sendak.
A sudden surge in the number of oppositions to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries in 1982 resulted in the creation of Banned Books Week to increase the public’s awareness of their freedom to read whatever they chose. Since then, more than 11,300 books have been challenged. Booksellers have been arrested; authors have witnessed their books taken from shelves and even removed from the marketplace.
This year, exercise your right to read one of the 10 most challenged titles of 2015. You’ll find nearly all of them—as well as thousands more—in the Brooklyn College Library.
- 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”)