Banned books week september 24 october 1 2011
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Banned Books Week September 24-October 1, 2011. Banning a book is when a person or group decides that a book is so inappropriate in some way that NO ONE should read the book. Then the person or group has the book removed from the shelves of libraries. What does it mean to ban a book?.

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Banned Books Week September 24-October 1, 2011

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Banned Books WeekSeptember 24-October 1, 2011

Banning a book is when a person or group decides that a book is so inappropriate in some way that NO ONE should read the book. Then the person or group has the book removed from the shelves of libraries.

What does it mean to ban a book?

An individual or group files a formal challenge with a school or library, requesting that a book or material be removed

The school or library forms a committee to review the material

The committee votes on if the material should be removed or retained

If the material is kept on the shelf, the person filing the complaint may file another complaint with the court system, which then will review the case

How does a book get banned?

In 2010, there were 348 (down in number from 2009) REPORTED challenges. “A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

A book is challenged if someone requests that it be removed from library shelves.

A book is banned if the library or school agrees to remove it from circulation.

More challenges are filed against school than other institutions.

How often are books banned?

Books usually are challenged to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.

Most librarians see challenges as grounded in good intention and pure in conviction, but they are ultimately illegal and restrictive.

Why are books challenged or banned?

Why are books challenged?

Family values

Political values

Intellectual freedom (think Iran and President Ahmadinejad’s comments that the Holocaust did not happen—or at least not to the extent others believe)

Why are books challenged or banned?—The ISSUES

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Why not ban books?1st Amendment rights--

Books provide education on a wide variety of subjects and the opportunity to have an experience vicariously

Without a wide variety of views, change cannot occur within a society

It is not possible to experience events such as the Holocaust or life in Puritan society but these events helped shape the world we live in today and it is important to have knowledge of those events.

What’s wrong with Banning Books?

Without examples such as Maya Angelou’s experiences in her childhood (I know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou), how would people who have not experienced racism learn about racism?

Without The Scarlet Letter, how would we understand Puritan society and how it operated?

Without Fahrenheit 451, how would you understand what effect burning books could have on a person and how the desire for banned items increases their interest and mystery?

Effects of Banning Books

In other words, reading is an opportunity to experience an event without actually living through it.

Parents and teachers are responsible for helping you select reading materials while they are still responsible for you. But as an adult, you have the freedom to read books of your choice and to decide what your children may or may not be allowed to read.

Should other people decide what YOU read?

Parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

According to the Library Bill of Rights…..

Challenges by Year

  • Banned for depictions of sex, racism, and violence


What books have been banned?

What books have been banned?

  • Offensive language


What books have been banned?

Ordered BURNED in East St. Louis for indecency and obscenity—it actually was restricted to adults only instead of being burned


What books have been banned?

  • Banned in a number of places over the years because of objections to the language used and the perception that the book promotes racism


What books have been banned?

Fahrenheit 451 is about book burning and the effect that banning or censoring books has on a society


What books have been banned?

Many have objected to the “magical content” in this book, claiming it promotes witchcraft and evil content. (It was written by the daughter of Christian missionaries and she is still writing books.)


What books have been banned?

  • Many have objected to the “magical content” in this book, and the other Harry Potter books, claiming it promotes witchcraft and evil content.


What books have been banned?

  • This book was banned because there is a wine bottle in the basket on the cover of the book. Some people felt it promoted drinking alcoholic beverages


What books have been banned?

  • This book was banned for encouraging inappropriate behavior


What books have been banned?

  • Banned for inappropriate content, promotion of cannibalism


What books have been banned?

  • Banned in some schools and libraries because ‘inappropriate pictures’


What books have been banned?

Banned in some schools and libraries because of content about the logging industry—”criminalizes the forestry industry”


  • And Tango Makes Three / Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell*

  • Ttyl, ttfn, l8r,g8r series / Lauren Myracle*

  • Brave New World / Alodus Huxley*

  • Crank / Ellen Hopkins*

  • The Hunger Games / Collins*

  • Lush / Natasha Friend

2010-top ten challenged books

7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know / Sonia Sones*

8. Nickel and Dimed / Barbara Ehrenreich*

9. Revolutionary Voices / Amy Sonnie

10. Twilight / Stephanie Meyer*

*We have these in our library

More books challenged--

Black Beauty / Anna Sewell

The Bible

Animal Farm / George Orwell

Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger

Goosebumps books / R. L. Stine

Scary Stories / Alvin Schwartz

--and many more…..

Other books challenged--

The Right to Read Freely

Evans v. Selma Union High School District of Fresno County, 222 P. 801 (Ca. 1924)

The California State Supreme Court held that the King James version of the Bible was not a "publication of a sectarian, partisan, or denominational character" that a State statute required a public high school library to exclude from its collections. The "fact that the King James version is commonly used by Protestant Churches and not by Catholics" does not "make its character sectarian," the court stated. "The mere act of purchasing a book to be added to the school library does not carry with it any implication of the adoption of the theory or dogma contained therein, or any approval of the book itself, except as a work of literature fit to be included in a reference library."

Court Cases(Foundations of Free Speech)

Rosenberg v. Board of Education of City of New York, 92 N.Y.S.2d 344 (Sup. Ct. Kings County 1949)

After considering the charge that Oliver Twist and the Merchant of Venice are "objectionable because they tend to engender hatred of the Jew as a person and as a race," the Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, decided that these two works cannot be banned from the New York City schools, libraries, or classrooms, declaring that the Board of Education "acted in good faith without malice or prejudice and in the best interests of the school system entrusted to their care and control, and, therefore, that no substantial reason exists which compels the suppression of the two books under consideration."

Court Cases (Foundations of Free Speech)

Minarcini v. Strongsville (Ohio) City School District, 541 F.2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976)

The Strongsville City Board of Education rejected faculty recommendations to purchase Joseph Heller's Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and ordered the removal of Catch-22 and Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle from the library. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the School Board, upholding the students' First Amendment right to receive information and the librarian's right to disseminate it. "The removal of books from a school library is a much more serious burden upon the freedom of classroom discussion than the action found unconstitutional in Tinker v. Des Moines School District."

Court Cases (Foundations of Free Speech)

Zykan v. Warsaw (Indiana) Community School Corporation and Warsaw School Board of Trustees, 631 F.2d 1300 (7th Cir. 1980)

A student brought suit seeking to reverse school officials' decision to "limit or prohibit the use of certain textbooks, to remove a certain book from the school library, and to delete certain courses from the curriculum." The district court dismissed the suit. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the school board has the right to establish a curriculum on the basis of its own discretion, but it is forbidden to impose a "pall of orthodoxy." The right of students to file complaints was recognized, but the court held that the students' claims "must cross a relatively high threshold before entering upon the field of a constitutional claim suitable for federal court litigation."

Court Cases(Freedom of Expression in Schools)

Exercise your rights! Read a banned book today

Talk to your neighbors about why everyone should be allowed to choose for themselves and their families what they read

If you want to know more, visit the ALA website on challenged and banned books

What to do about banning books?


  • Poster Images from: American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression,


  • Book Cover Images from: Alibris

  • Court Case citations from The American Library Association, Notable First Amendment Court Cases website:

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