“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Does this quote sound familiar? Those of you who have read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird may recognize it as a passage the character Scout uses to explain how her appreciation for the ability to read and the time she spent reading grew out of the realization that she may no longer have that experience of reading at home with her father again.
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is an important, Pulitzer Prize winning, book about racism and rape, set in the American South, that has been read all across the country by high school students since it was first introduced in the classroom in 1963. A 2008 survey indicated that it has become the most widely read book in school across this country. The American Library Association (ALA) also finds that the book is among the most challenged and banned books, many years making it to the “Top 10” list, meaning that people continually question whether or not students should have access to the book.
This above quote found in To Kill A Mockingbird therefore not only speaks to the importance of access to books, but is also symbolic of the fight against censorship. Libraries across the country, including the Katharine Brush Library at Loomis Chaffee, are celebrating the fight to end censorship this week, September 21-27, referring to the week as Banned Books Week. Learn more about challenged and banned books by checking out our second floor library display.
Did you know that our library’s namesake, Katharine Brush, wrote a book that was once banned from a town in Massachusetts? It’s true! The 1949 reprint of You Go Your Way, also known as When She Was Bad, was banned that same year in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for having an obscene cover! Bookstores and newsstands were asked to remove the book from their shelves (along with several others). Katharine halfheartedly apologized for the cover photo, saying she should have chosen a more tasteful picture but simultaneously compared her book cover with images seen in advertising at that time.
For more information about this story and a few others on Katharine Brush, check out the “Kay and Me” blog at the following website: http://kayandme.blogspot.com/.
Ms. Aubrey Muscaro
The Katharine Brush Library is joining libraries all across the country in celebrating Banned Books Week September 22 — September 28, 2013! Founded in 1982 by library activist Judith Krug, Banned Books Week was designed to bring attention to the issues of censorship, intellectual freedom, and first amendment rights. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the top three reasons given for book challenges over the years have been: sexual explicitness, offensive language, and “unsuited to age group”. Other reasons often cited in book challenges include occult themes, violence, promotion of homosexuality, promotion of a religious viewpoint, nudity, racism, presentation of sex education, and books that are considered “anti-family.” More than 11,300 books have been challenged or banned in the United States since 1982. Last year (2012), the Office of Intellectual Freedom received 464 complaints of book challenges, and the American Library Association believes many book challenges actually go unreported.
During Banned Books Week, many libraries showcase books that have been challenged and/or banned in other libraries or school districts. Examples of some of the most frequently banned books are Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Many modern day books have also made it to the challenged and banned books list, such as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, Cecily Von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series, and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. In 2010, there was even a proposal to ban the Merriam-Webster Dictionary from a school district in California after a parent complained about a term listed in the book!
We would like to invite all of our students, faculty, and staff to check out the banned books we have on display this week on the first floor of the Katharine Brush Library! Come take a “mug shot” of yourself holding a banned book and pick up a Banned Books Week bookmark!