Books That Are Made for Burning

Author Ellen Hopkins reads for Banned Books Week, Manifesto

Tomorrow kicks off the 27th annual celebration of Banned Books Week, September 26 – October 3, 2009. First observed in 1982, BBW encourages Americans to embrace their democratic freedom to read what they wish without legal consequences. With the progression of digital medium, though, the event has also come to embrace more forms of reading, including comic books and graphic novels, news sources, blogs, and other forms of expression; BBW has truly morphed into more than what it suggests–it now encompasses the freedom to information, as well, and strives to uphold the First Amendment in all ways possible. It is an event that is mainly sponsored by the American Library Association and endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book. This year’s theme is Speak – Read – Know.

Banned Books Week is an active awareness campaign that not only highlights books that have actually been banned from American schools and libraries, but, more importantly, raises awareness about books that are challenged. It’s important to remember that often times books aren’t pulled from shelves in these places because of the hard work of librarians and educators nationwide. In fact, challenged books make up the largest amount of material cataloged by the ALA in their yearly roundup. Either way, it confronts the intellectual equivalent of an attempt to destroy a book, to throw it into a fire to destroy the ideas contained within; it’s a right to access the ALA defends.

Of course, as a literary journal–one that has featured one of this year’s most-challenged authors, Sherman Alexie–we can’t help but support this cause, even on an individual level. You might wonder what you can do to spread the awareness; here are a few ideas…

So, when trying to figure out what book to pick up next, consider choosing one from the list below and celebrate your freedom to find, buy, house, and read any book you choose, whenever you’d like, and remember that books aren’t made for burning–“The paper burns, but the words fly away.”

Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
–Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 24 February 1959


List of Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009

A Pet Peeve — calling Chutzpa to BBW opposition

Book Burnings: 75th Anniversary of the Nazi Book Burnings

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Banned Books Week is Approaching!

Banned Books Week is quickly approaching–it’s only a week and change away. This year the observed week is September 26 – October 3, 2009.

BBW has always been an event near and dear to me, as a reader, as a writer, and as a teacher–heck, even as Blogger, now. Its tagline is, Celebrating the Freedom to Read, and, really, I can’t imagine something more important.

Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.

As an intern working on a literary magazine, I realize how critical it is that the freedom to publish exists, and appreciate it. So get ready, because next week SR will begin celebrating BBW and enjoying our freedom to continue to do what we do. And you’ll keep reading, we hope, not only because you want to, but also because you can.

American Library Association Official Website

Banned Books Week Official Website

Local Event: Chris Crutcher at Chandler Gilbert Community College

Chris Crutcher, notable young adult novelist and former family therapist, is going to be making a stop in the valley to give a lecture in a couple weeks as a way to kick off Banned Books Week (September 26-October 3).

Chandler Gilbert Community College, located at 2626 E Pecos Rd
Chandler, 85225
, will be hosting Chris for his lecture titled, “Banned: When Real Life Fiction Meets the Censor.” The lecture will be held at 9:40 a.m. 11:05 a.m. on Monday, September 28, in CGCC’s Performing Arts Center (PAC building) on the Pecos campus.

Having been challenged and banned numerous times for his own writing, Chris is a strong advocate for freedom of fiction and is constantly participating in freedom of fiction events. Particularly because he has experienced tough stories as a counselor, and he knows that life is not always easy especially for young adults, he challenges bannings of his books quite often–he not only argues for the books to be allowed to be printed, but he also argues that banning is belittling real-life situations and disallowing young readers to connect to the books they read.

We hope you can make it to this free event!

Chris Crutcher’s Office Homepage

Chandler-Gilbert Community College Campus Map

CGCC’s Event Page