Harry Potter and Huck Finn never met in their adventures, but they'll share a shelf at libraries across America during Banned Books Week, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2. The weeklong celebration of our freedom to read began in 1982 in response to an increase in the number of books being challenged in the nation's libraries and schools.
From DePauw University, Greencastle, IN: Banned Books Week has continued annually, and its need has not diminished. According to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, there were 460 recorded attempts to remove materials from libraries last year and many thousands more since the organization began counting in 1990.
Three books by Lauren Myracle -- ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r -- topped the ALA's Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 (see article below). Written entirely in texting shorthand, Myracle's books were challenged for sexual content and drug references. Stephenie Meyer's popular Twilight series was challenged on religious grounds, evoking opposition to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels for promoting witchcraft. And it's not just new books that are being challenged. Classics such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye are perennial contenders for the distinction of being the most challenged book.
"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," said ALA President Roberta Stevens in a press release on the organization's website.