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Censorship

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

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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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The Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Year

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It is Banned Books Week from September 22 until 28, and readers around the country are celebrating their favorite challenged books. You can also recognize Banned Books Week Heroes, join the Twitter Party or participate in the Virtual Read-Out.

Below, we’ve linked to free samples of all the books on the American Library Association (ALA)’s annual list of the most frequently challenged library books–follow the links below to read these controversial books yourself.

Follow this link for a list of “all the books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned in 2012 and 2013.”

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Librarian Bans Book To Show Censorship’s Harm

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania librarian Scott R. DiMarco intentionally banned a book within his library system to demonstrate ”what harm censorship can really do to a community.”

DiMarco wrote about his censorship exercise in College & Research Libraries News. The librarian picked One Woman’s Vengeance, a book self-published on Lulu by Mansfield University PR director Dennis R. Miller. Here’s more from DiMarco:

on a campus of 3,000, only eight people actually asked for a meeting with me to discuss the reasons I banned the book and to discuss what could be done to reverse the ban. The overwhelming number of comments were complaints about how they felt betrayed by this action or their frustration with the administration. Some used Facebook as a forum to make rude comments from the relatively safe distance social media provides.

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Readers & Writers Celebrate Judy Blume’s Birthday

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has collected birthday wishes for the legendary author, Judy Blume.

The Giver author Lois Lowry, former National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka and Internet Girls series writer Lauren Myracle all contributed messages.

Scieszka and Myracle shared photos of themselves posing with Blume. Read all the messages on the NCAC blog.

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Han Han Describes Censorship in Chinese Publishing

Chinese Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan generated controversy for describing censorship as “unpleasant but necessary.”

Chinese author Han Han published This Generation earlier this year, collecting essays and blogs he wrote about living in the Communist country. In that book, he spoke frankly about censorship in his country.

Below, we’ve collected five quotes from the book illustrating how censorship really works in the Chinese publishing industry. As you can see below, Han writes without capitalization in his prose.

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Read Free Samples of the Most Challenged Books of the Year

To celebrate Banned Books Week, the American Library Association (ALA) is hosting a virtual reading of banned and challenged books on YouTube.

To help you find books to support, we’ve reprinted the ALA’s annual list of the most frequently challenged library books of 2011.

We’ve linked to free samples of all the books on the list–follow the links below to read these controversial books yourself.

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