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Banned Books Week to be acknowledged

Celebrating the freedom to read!

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged and/or banned books. The 2009 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from Sept. 26-Oct. 3.

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of our freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 1,000 books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups or positive portrayals of homosexuals. Their targets range from books that explore the latest problems to classic and beloved works of American literature.

According to the American Library Association, the 513 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2008 included The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.

Other books which have been challenged and/or banned over the years include such favorites as Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne.

If you are interested in a complete list of the top 100 books challenged and/or banned, you are welcome to stop in the Blackduck Community Library for this information.

It is interesting to note that according to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.