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September 28, 2010 > Tips for 'Banned Books Awareness Week'

Tips for 'Banned Books Awareness Week'

Submitted By Rebekah Gannaway

September is a big month for literacy; not only celebrating the joys of reading but also Banned Books Week held September 25 through October 2.

Are you aware that such beloved series as Twilight and Harry Potter have actually been banned from many school libraries? The act of banning or challenging a book is very serious and threatens our First Amendment rights - this special week encourages freedom of speech, freedom of the press and our right to knowledge and the expression of ideas.

A banned book is one that has been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore or classroom because of its controversial content. In some cases, banned books of the past have been burned and/or refused publication. A book may be banned or challenged on political, religious, sexual or social grounds.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Always check age-appropriateness of books. While many banned or challenged books may not be appropriate for young children, they may be perfectly suitable for middle or high school kids. Gauge this not only with age, but with your reader's maturity and reading level. As an example, while it's probably not appropriate for a 4th grader to read The Color Purple, a child at the appropriate age shouldn't be denied a classic because it has been banned.

Read books on your kid's reading lists along with them. This will lead to conversation about controversial passages and how they tie into society. To Kill a Mockingbird, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, has been the victim of banning and challenging in the past due to the subject matter of racism. Should a child be sheltered from learning about the history of American culture, even if it might make them uncomfortable? It was the reality of the time period in which it was written, and it is important for today's generation of children to realize how far we have come as a society. Looking back at history through literature is a valuable way for children to understand our past.

To view a list of banned books, visit www.deletecensorship.org.

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