Did you know this week is Banned Books Week?
Since 1982, Banned Books Week has been a national celebration of the freedom to read, launched in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982, ranging from books that explore contemporary issues and controversies to classic and beloved works of American literature.
Banned Books Week is a chance for all of us to bring attention to the harms of censorship. ALA President Roberta Stevens said it best in a recent Huffington Post article: “Not every book is right for each reader, but we should have the right to think for ourselves and allow others to do the same. How can we live in a free society and develop our own opinions if our right to choose reading materials for ourselves and our families is taken away? We must remain diligent and protect our freedom to read.”
Want to know what kind of books have been banned or challenged over the past decade? Here’s ALA’s list of top contenders:
1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl series by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Even one of our upcoming distributed titles has been banned in the past: the combined volume of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Schools across the nation still bar these American classics for their racial epithets, which Twain used to reflect the societal standards of the nineteenth century. NewSouth Books and Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben will offer this volume with the racial slurs removed completely.
This new edition will be the first of its kind to make this substantive change. Dr. Gribben explains that Mark Twain’s novels “can be enjoyed deeply and authentically without those continual encounters with hundreds of now-indefensible racial slurs,” and he hopes this volume will increase readership of Twain’s two masterpieces. You can read more of Dr. Gribben’s own words on the subject in this drafted excerpt from his edition.
Good or bad, this new edition is sure to stir up some buzz. What do you think? Will this new edition introduce both books to a wider readership?