Friday, September 24, 2010

Celebrate Your fREADom!

Throughout the country, children have started a new academic year and teachers are sending out their lists of required readings, with parents beginning to gather books. In some cases, classics including “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” will not be included in curriculum or available in school libraries due to challenges made by parents or administrators. In recent years a school district in our own region faced challenges to books presented in the high school classroom.

Aaron’s Books supports the right of every person in our community to choose books freely for themselves, and we are proud join a national awareness campaign known as Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 through Oct 2). Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has reminded the nation that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read or view.

Since 1990, the American Library Association (ALA) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, including 513 in 2008 and 460 in 2009. The ALA estimates the actual number of challenges is four times higher. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. Approximately three out of every four challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, while the rest are to material in public libraries.

It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Slaughterhouse-Five,” and “The Kite Runner” remain available in public and school libraries.

The most challenged and/or restricted reading materials have been books for children. However, challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; on the contrary, they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well intentioned, the outcome is detrimental. Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves.

Aaron’s Books and thousands of libraries and bookstores across the country will celebrate the freedom to read by participating in special events, exhibits, and read-outs that showcase books that have been banned or threatened. We encourage citizens to visit their libraries this week and check out a banned or challenged book. We have our own display of recently banned or challenged books in the store.

In addition to ALA, the national sponsors of Banned Books Week are: the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores. The Library of Congress Center for the Book endorses the observance.

As Lancaster County’s full service family owned independent bookstore we are happy to support our local and county libraries. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people. They are also the strongest defenders against censorship in all forms. Read a book, support your library, and celebrate your freedom.

Be sure to check out our FaceBook page during Banned Books Week.  We'll be highlighting one of the most challenged books in 2009 & 2010 each day.

Here are some Banned Books Week Resources~

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