Sunday, September 22, 2013

Banned Book Week in DC and elsewhere, Sept. 22 - 28

More than 11,300 books have been challenged in libraries and schools since 1982, reports ABC News in Banned Books Week's Top 10 Heroes Revealed.   Yikes.   That's a lot of books.

The Bible, Huckleberry Finn, Franklin on Franklin (Benjamin Franklin autobiography), Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Gone with the Wind, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Color Purple are on the list.

Parenthetically, not all books are banned.   Some are challenged, like Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting By in America.   The book, on the 2012-2013 list compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (PDF), was

Challenged, but retained on the Easton, Pa. Area High School’s Advanced Placement English reading list (2012) despite several residents and persons from outside the district calling the book "faddish," of "no moral value," and even "obscene."

Children's books are not exempt from banning.   The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was banned in Colorado in 1998 "because it was considered 'sexist.' It was also challenged by several schools because it 'criminalized the foresting agency.'"   The beloved Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White was banned in 2006 in Kansas because, wait for it, "talking animals are considered an 'insult to god.'"   You'll love this one: In 2010, the tenth edition of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary "was banned in several classrooms in California because it included the definition for 'oral sex.'"

Many don't sit idly by while the banning and challenging takes place.   Some, like the young woman in the video below, are reading from banned books as part of the Banned Books Week Read Out activities.

Activities are not limited to virtual ones.   DC Public Library's Mount Pleasant branch is raising awareness for this assault on books, reading, learning, exploring, critical thinking, and enjoyment.   From a recent library email:

Kicking the week off, on Monday September 23 at 4:00pm we have a great workshop lined up for teens. Want to improve your public speaking skills? Want to learn how to command an audience when you’re in the spotlight? The Youth Leaders Ensemble from Ford’s Theatre will be leading a workshop in the large meeting room for teens interested in sharpening their public speaking skills and learning how to grab an audience’s attention. Snacks will be provided and teens attending the workshop will also get free tickets to The Laramie Project, on stage at Ford’s Theatre from September 27 – October 27! If you miss this program, or if you’re a teen who just can’t get enough, there will be a second workshop in Teen Space at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Tuesday September 23rd at 4:00pm.

Also on Monday at 6:00pm, we have "Don’t Read That Book!" a fun program for children ages 5-12. What do Harry Potter, Harriet the Spy, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Little Red Riding Hood have in common? They were all banned at some point in history! Join us as we learn how and why some of our favorite books have been banned. Create a fun craft and watch the movie version of a banned book in the Children’s Room.

On Thursday September 26 at 2:00pm we’ll be screening a family classic for everyone to enjoy. Join us in the large meeting room for a special screening of To Kill A Mockingbird, the 1962 classic based on Harper Lee's semi-autobiographical -- and oft-banned -- novel about Atticus Finch, a quiet and thoughtful lawyer in a small 1930s Southern town trying to do right by his client, a poor black man who is accused of rape, and his motherless children, Scout and Jem. Winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck. This movie is rated PG.

Don’t forget to stop by the library every day during Banned Books Week for your DC Rollergirls Banned Books Week collectable trading cards! DC’s toughest readers have partnered up with us to create these awesome cards. Each one is different and features a DC Rollergirl with her favorite banned book at a different library branch. Collect all seven and bring them to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (where you can pick up the seventh) on Sunday September 29th at 1:00pm where all seven DC Rollergirls will be available to sign them for you and talk about their favorite banned books.

The Mount Pleasant Library is located at 3160 16th Street NW at the corner of 16th and Lamont Streets. Closest Metro: Columbia Heights.

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