Banned Books Week celebrates classics

Banned Books Week celebrates classics

   Nothing will fire up readers like taking a book off the shelves and burying it in a filing cabinet. It's the one sure path to the best seller list.

     But for years, school boards and citizens' groups -- well-meaning but often uninformed -- have attempted to take books they deem “offensive” from the shelves of school libraries.
    This is Banned Books Week, and an alliance of booksellers and library associations are drawing attention to the number of classics that have been censored or banned. Some are well known—The Adventures Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain, for example. And every year, the list of banned books grows. From 1982 until 2015, more than 11,300 books were challenged, according to the American Library AssociationSome have sexual themes. Others grapple with politically charged concepts.  Still others explore the dark side of man. The Library of Congress keeps a list of books that shaped America – including many titles that have been banned by school districts.  Here are five examples, along with links for further study:

A Separate Peace (1959) by John Knowles: Set in the 1940s, the intense story of friendship and rivalry between two boys at a boarding school has been banned in some school districts for graphic language.

Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison: The Pulitzer Prize winning book tells the story of a woman who kills her daughter rather than allowing the girl to become a slave. The book’s sexual violence and intensity has prompted complaints from parents in some districts. (See New York Daily News Books Blog, January 17, 2012.)

The Call of the Wild (1903), by Jack London: The book follows the adventures of a dog who is kidnapped and sold to traders in search of sled dogs. Taken to Alaska, the animal reconnects with its wilder side, learning to fight and live in the wilderness. This book was banned by European dictatorships in the 1920s and the 1930s. London was seen as too radical, according to the University of Pennsylvania website, Banned Books Online.

The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger: A landmark book, it tells the story of the disillusioned Holden Caulfield, expelled from prep school. It is banned in numerous school systems for sexual references and language. 

Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison. The book follows the life of an African-American man who is unnoticed or ignored -- and mistreated -- by those around him. The book was banned from libraries in a North Carolina school system as recently as 2013 due to sexual content and language, according to the Los Angeles Times.

      To know more:


      Young readers lukewarm about libraries

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