Jr Biblio File – February 2022
In the third week of February Canada celebrates “Freedom to read week”. It doesn’t get as much press here as it does in the United States, probably because we pride ourselves on being a polite and tolerant society. In every country though, there are people who believe that they should choose the rules that govern intellectual freedom.
There are many reasons that books get “challenged”, which means someone wants them removed or at the very least access restricted. Or “banned”, which means that a governing body agrees with the challenge, and books are required to be removed from public libraries or restricted to only certain patrons.
According to Wikipedia, as of 2020, the top ten reasons books were challenged and banned in the United States included: sexual content (92.5% percent of books on the list); offensive language (61.5%); unsuited to age group (49%); religious viewpoint (26%); LGBTQIA+ content (23.5%); violence (19%); racism (16.5%); drugs, alcohol, and smoking (12.5%); “anti-family” content (7%); and political viewpoint (6.5%).
However, just because a book was challenged or banned at one point in history, or in one country, doesn’t mean it is forever unacceptable. Many books, in fact all on the following list, have been banned or challenged at some point either here or somewhere else, and yet they are very welcome on bookshelves today. It is good to remember that understanding is evolving, and what we once were offended by, or in some cases not offended by, can change as society grows and develops. Our decisions are informed by current understanding, and it can be a very good thing that that is evolving rather than static.
Now you may be wondering how this could possibly apply to children and young adult books. The same article that gave those statistics, states that the beloved Judy Blume is the author most frequently featured on this books list with five of her titles. And the now classic Harry Potter series topped the list for most frequently challenged books for the first decade of this millennium.
For a more comprehensive list of books challenged in Canada you will find this link to the Penguin House publishers website very interesting. https://www.freedomtoread.ca/challenged-works/#.W6jdOxP49E8
While our library is small, we are pleased to provide quality literature and diverse points of view for your education, entertainment and edification. So, to properly celebrate this year’s “Freedom to Read Week”, which is February 20-26, 2022, I present a list, in alphabetical order, of books in our library that have been banned or challenged somewhere in the world, at some point in the past.
This list is not comprehensive. But if you are interested, many of the books in our library that have been banned or challenged somewhere in the world have a book mark in them this month to help you identify them. I wish you happy browsing and and I will leave you with this quote by the brilliant author, and outspoken Library advocate, Neil Gaiman.
“Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art.
Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.”
― Neil Gaiman