Banned Books Week wrapup

With today being the last day of Banned Books Week, I thought it worthwhile to wrap things up with a look at how it was viewed by others, both in the blogosphere and the mainstream press.

  • An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal as Banned Books Week kicked off took a dim view of it, saying “the sponsors are more interested in confrontation than celebration.” I’m not sure what’s confrontational about the week. While the piece notes that, compared to other countries, books aren’t banned in the U.S. “if banned means something like ‘made dangerous or difficult for the average person to obtain.'” As pointed out yesterday, it is worse elsewhere but that’s no reason to ignore challenges here.
  • The latter was a point made in a piece in an article in an Arizona newspaper. In it, the owner of a bookstore in Bisbee, Ariz., pointed out, “Imagine how many more books might be challenged — and possibly banned or restricted — if librarians, teachers and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.”
  • PopMatters looked at lessons learned from banned books, one of the more important being that books “still have power.”
  • And, of course, what would Banned Books Week be without new book challenge reports? Among other things, one school resolved an issue over Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted while another received challenges to Asne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

All of us can think of a book… that we hope none of our children or any other children have taken off the shelf. But if I have the right to remove that book from the shelf – that work I abhor – then you also have exactly the same right and so does everyone else. And then we have no books left on the shelf for any of us.

Katherine Paterson

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