Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon and Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! AND Banned Books Week! That's right, it's that time of year again to celebrate YOUR freedom to read! This years theme is Think for Yourself and Let Others Do the Same! And this week at Chick with Books we're going to highlight books that were banned or challenged.

Held during the last week of September, this year that means Sept. 25th - Oct. 2nd, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

It's important to note that the American Library Association does welcome parents who care about what their child is reading, and their involvement in overseeing what they deem appropriate or inappropriate. But not wanting YOUR child or teen to read something and trying to BAN any particular book from other children or teens (or adults!) is where the first amendment comes into play. Think for Yourself! And Let ME make MY own choices! This is particularly important when it comes to public libraries, which is sometimes the only resource people have to reading books! How do you feel about the banning of books?! Here are the top 10 challenged books of 2009 as reported to the OIF, or the Office of Intellectual Freedom...

Out of 460 challenges ...

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series)", by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

I can't imagine not being able to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee! What a great book! In my opinion, the book challenges racism, not encourages it. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult was a favorite among my reading group bringing up the issues of a person's right to choose, not advocating suicide. Charlotte's Web, Little Red Riding Hood, In the Night Kitchen all challenged?! Check out the ALA's list of top 100 Banned/Challenged Books of the decade! And then tell me what books you were surprised to see on the list!

Last year I highlighted 2 of my all time favorite "banned books", The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, met Holden Caulfield as I read Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, featured I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou for Memoir Monday, and featured a often times forgotten author and her book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Where will this year take us? This week we'll meet a young girl from the Holocaust, see why someone felt a 1963 Newbery Medal Winner should be banned, and why a Snowy book that won the PEN/Faulkner award and was named 1995 book of the year by the American Booksellers Association was challenged, barred from the curriculum, but finally returned to the school library.

This year my Banned Book reading challenge read will be The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Written like a diary, I'll be thrown back into high school and trying to survive those years all over again. What are YOU reading for Banned Book Week?! Need some Banned Book Suggestions? Here are some suggestions...

A Time To Kill by John Grisham... John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice — at last it’s available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence…as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town…Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle — and takes justice into his own outraged hands. For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client’s life…and then his own…

This Book was challenged but retained in a Fargo, ND high school advanced English class "despite the novels graphic rape and murder scenes." Although I've never read this particular John Grisham novel, there was a time where I couldn't get enough of his courtroom thrillers. I've never been disappointed when picking up a John Grisham novel because his writing has always been consistently good. Have you read this one yet?

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx... Brokeback Mountain was originally a short story in Annie Proulx's collection of short stories called Close Range. These stories are "reflections on the lives of a handful of characters striving to define themselves against the unforgiving landscapes of Wyoming." After the success of the movie of the same name, Brokeback Mountain was reprinted as its own stand alone novel. What's interesting in this case of a challenged book is how far the school in question went to protect its freedom to read... St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Tx. (a private school) returned a three million dollar donation rather than submit to the donor's request that the short story be removed from the school's list of optional reading for twelfth graders. This is a wonderful collection of short stories and if you enjoyed the movie and want to read the actual story, and the movie was true to the actual story, I would pick up Close Range to be able to read more than just Brokeback Mountain.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier... One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Who is the model and why has she been painted? It is the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter's attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings - the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings. In contrast to her work in her master's studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should. As Griet becomes part of her master's work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even - as the scandal seeps out - ripples in the world beyond.

This book was banned in Iran in 2006. In a statement, "The new government intends to take positive steps for reviving neglected values and considering religious teachings in the cultural field."

I hope I've stirred your desire to read a banned book! Let me know if you'll be reading anything challenged and banned! And share what you think about banning books!

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