Thursday, September 25, 2008

Get Comfortable; I've Got A Lot To Say Here

I wrote about Judy Blume's Superfudge being a banned book, and bang, next week is Banned Books Week. It's like from my fingertips to the American Library Association's ears. Or just a coincidence.

In any event, the ALA will observe Banned Books Week:Celebrating the Freedom to Read from September 27 to October 4. This has been an annual ALA event since 1982. According to the ALA website, Banned Books Week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."

That website also lists the most frequently challenged books of 2007. A challenge is defined as "a formal. written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness." We have four of the top ten challenged books of 2007 on our bookshelves here in the Burt household. It's like we're some kind of hippies. Go, us!

So we're celebrating. I'll celebrate just about any holiday or event, especially if it comes with a signature cocktail (yes, Cinco de Mayo, I'm talking about you), but it does sound strange to talk about celebrating and banned books together. What is there to celebrate? For starters, the fact that most challenges are unsuccessful. I'll raise a Bookatini to that or maybe a Library Libre. Cocktails aside, I have a few other plans for celebrating Banned Books Week.

1. I plan to discuss the First Amendment with my kids.

2. I plan to take them to the library.

3. While there, we'll check out some challenged books that are age appropriate and discuss why some people might want those books removed from libraries and schools. This will not be a chore as some Burt family favorites are also challenged books, including Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Dav Pikey's Captain Underpants.

4. Finally, I plan to thank our town and school librarians for all the good work they do.

However you plan to celebrate, I wish you good reading!

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