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Censorship

Dav Pilkey, Toni Morrison & Sherman Alexie Lead ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books List

captainunderpantsCaptain Underpants by Dav Pilkey, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie led the  most challenged books of the year list this year.

This is according to the Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books, compiled annually by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The list explores books that have received the most complaints. Check it out:

The OIF collects reports on book challenges from librarians, teachers, concerned individuals and press reports. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2013, the OIF received hundreds of reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.

We’ve got the whole list after the jump. Read more

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Lauren Berger Writes New Book for Young People Entering "Real World"

Lauren Berger Welcome to the Real WorldCareer Expert, Lauren Berger, releases her second book, Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career (Harper Business), on April 22nd. In this book, Berger shares everything she wishes someone told her after graduation. Her book is the essential guide to anyone starting their first, second, or third job. She encourages readers to be fearless, step outside of their comfort zones, and go after what they want.

‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ Banned in Idaho School District

truediaryThe Meridian School District in Idaho has voted to ban The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie from a 10th grade English reading list.

The controversial book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2007. The Idaho Statesman has the story about why the book was banned. Check it out:

Trustees say they want school officials to look for a book covering Native American cultural issues, but written at a higher reading level than Alexie’s book. They also want the district to review its curriculum on cultural diversity, which has included the book. Alexie’s novel tells the story of a Native American who ends up going to high school at a mostly white urban school and faces bullying and other problems. The book makes reference to masturbation, contains profanity and has been viewed by many as anti-Christian.

According to the Kids’ Right to Read Project, book censorship in school districts across the U.S. rose last year.

Reddit Admits Book Banning Was April Fool’s Day Joke

reddit304Last week Reddit said that it was updating its policy and banning discussions of classic books from the subreddit discussion of books. The site has now come clean and admitted that this was just an April Fool’s Day joke.

“Well, you probably guessed it. We’re not actually going to ban any books from discussion in /r/Books,” explains the site. ”It was our hope that our early prank would foster discussion about popular books, other literary subreddits, and how bad it is to ban books. Happily, it was a success!”

The joke wasn’t all in vain though. The moderators did admit that they want to idea to get across that readers should expand their discussions beyond  very popular books. “It has always been the largest complaint about /r/Books that we bring up the same books over and over,” reads the site. “But, to defend that, of course the most popular books are going to be brought up the most. It’s a difficult issue to address in a large subreddit, and we are happy that it was discussed so much this weekend.”

Authors Fight Ban on Books in UK Prisons

photoBritish authors Phillip Pullman and Mark Haddon are among many that have spoken out to stop new rules that restrict access to books among prisoners in the UK.

“Any government worth having would countermand this loathsome and revolting decision at once, sack the man responsible, and withdraw the whip from him,” Pullman told The Guardian.

Mary Sweeney launched a Change.org petition today urging Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP to “review and amend” the new rules. The petition has already generated more than 5,000 signatures. Here is an excerpt from the petition: “Access to books can be crucial for education and rehabilitation. Access to family items are important for continued family connection, and should not additionally punish children of prisoners who need contact.” (Via The Guardian).

Penguin India Recalls & Destroys ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’

thehindusPenguin Books India has recalled and plans to destroy all copies of The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger, in order to settle a lawsuit brought about by a Hindu nationalist group that claimed the religion was misrepresented by the book. According to reports, the book over-eroticizes the religion. In exchange for pulling the 2009 book from shelves, the group has agreed to drop all lawsuits against Penguin.

According to The New York TimesDina Nath Batra, the head of Shiksha Bacho Andolan, a Hindu educational organization in New Delhi, filed the complaint in 2011 alleging that the book “has hurt the religious feelings of millions of Hindus” in doing do broke Indian law. Doniger responded to the case on Facebook, criticizing India’s free speech laws. She writes: Read more

Book Censorship Cases on the Rise: Kids’ Right to Read Project

NCACKids’ Right to Read Project has revealed that book censorship is on the rise in school districts across the U.S. this year. In fact, according to a report in Shelf Awareness, the organization saw a 53 percent increase in cases in 2013, as compared to 2012.

Many respected titles are among the lists of books that members of communities are trying to ban. For example, the most current case involves a North Carolina county trying to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Color Purple from their school district.

Here is more about that case from the National Coalition Against Censorship’s website:

After hearing complaints from parents, Pat Sykes as well as fellow commissioner Marty Cooke have made it their goal to see to the removal of the book. Mr. Cooke is married to a member of the Brunswick County school board. A review committee established by West Brunswick High School has already upheld the use of the book. Ms. Sykes appealed that decision to the commissioner, who also held the book should remain. Now the book will face a vote from the school board.

Iran to Review Book Censorship

iranThe Iranian cultural minister Ali Jannati has said that the government will reconsider allowing books that had previously been censored in the country. According to a report in The Guardian, Jannati said that “books subjected to censorship or denied permission to be published in the past will be reviewed again.”

The move comes as a new president has taken power in Iran. Here is more from The Guardian: “The new move come under The minister’s words suggested an opening-up of the country’s publishing industry under new president Hassan Rouhani, who has already signalled his willingness to make changes by agreeing to the first presidential telephone conversation with America since the 1979 revolution.

Under the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran censored many books including Tracy Chevalier’s Girl With a Pearl Earring and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

Top 10 Banned Books Picked by Mensa Members

mensaAmerican Mensa created a list of the top 10 banned books, polling its highly intelligent members. To join American Mensa, you must score in among the top two percent of on “an accepted standardized intelligence test.”

We’ve collected the complete list below–how many have you read? The members consulted a list of banned books created by Uprise Books Project founder Justin Stanley. Here’s more about the selection process:

Mensa members were asked to rank them in order of importance. Big Brother, a teenage girl and a compassionate lawyer made the list. Comments about the overall winner included references about the author himself (“Orwell’s insight into the malleability of human thought and behavior is a timeless incentive to personal awareness of the consequences of action and inaction”) to it’s impact on society (“1984 is one of those books that has become a cultural cornerstone”).

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Neil Gaiman Book Removed From High School Reading List in New Mexico

fortune

Educators of Alamogordo High School have removed a Neil Gaiman Neverwhere from their required reading list. The author sent a message out on Twitter and asked, “is anyone fighting back?”

According to The Guardian, this New Mexico school removed the book after one student’s mother complained that the book contains “sexual innuendos and harsh language.”

Gaiman recently delivered a lecture at the Reading Agency on the importance of libraries, reading, and daydreaming. During one portion of his speech, he denounces censorship and declares that “there are no bad authors for children.”

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Alice Munro on the Slippery Slope of Censorship

Back in 1979, Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro responded to “pressure groups” trying to remove The Lives of Girls and Women from school reading lists. We’ve embedded the complete CBC TV interview above.

She explored the slippery slope of censorship–how these groups could move from book challenges to book banning. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

As soon as one step is taken, you have to start resisting because that makes the next step easier. The people who are concerned say they are not interested in taking books out of libraries or bookstores. I wonder if it is that they are not at this point interested in doing that. Because they are actually removing books from school reading lists which their children do not have to read. So they are taking away from other children.

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