[Net-Gold] Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights
- Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 15:46:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Sue Fraser <xcschild@...>
To: Net-Gold <Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: [Net-Gold] Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights
Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights
by Stevenson Swanson
NEW YORK - The story seemed like a surefire hit for children. A pair of
penguins take care of an egg that isn't theirs and then raise the baby
penguin, after it hatches, as their own.How heartwarming. And who doesn't
Plenty of parents, it turns out, when both penguin parents are male.
That plot twist earned And Tango Makes Three the distinction of being
the most challenged book of 2006, according to the Chicago-based American
Library Association, which compiles an annual list of titles that have
been targeted by efforts to remove them from public and school libraries.
Tango, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, and other controversial
titles from the 2006 list, such as two by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison and
Cecily von Ziegesar's popular
Gossip Girl series, will be the center of attention in the coming week
at readings and other literary events nationwide as part of Banned Books
Week, organized by the library association and other groups, including the
American Civil Liberties Union.
In Chicago, the week kicked off Saturday with readings from books on the
most-challenged list in Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue.
Last year the number of challenges ranging from written complaints to
full-blown hearings jumped to 546, more than 30 percent higher than in
2005. Such annual fluctuations are not unusual, said Judith Krug, head of
the library association's office for intellectual freedom.
Despite the higher number of challenges, the vast majority of efforts to
ban specific books came up short: only 29 titles were removed from library
shelves last year. Among the titles that disappeared from some libraries
were Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, The Bluest Eye by Morrison and
Forever by Judy Blume.
But even one removal is one too many for Krug.
You're taking choice away, she said. If it's removed, no one in
that library or school has the opportunity to read that book.
Supporters of bans
Organizers of efforts to have books removed from public libraries or
reading lists in schools say that their efforts are aimed at keeping
graphic material, such as obscene language, out of the hands of children.
The library association has been very successful in spreading their
message that anything goes, said Dan Kleinman, who runs the Web site
SafeLibraries .org, which calls for greater parental say in the books used
in schools and available to children at libraries. Banned Books Week is
��propaganda to convince parents to allow school boards and libraries to
continue making inappropriate material available, he said.
Kleinman cited the decision by the school board in the southwest Chicago
suburb of Oak Lawn to keep a book on a summer reading list for 8th graders
despite its use of profanity and description of adolescent sexual desires.
The board issued an apology for not notifying parents of the contents of
the novel, Fat Kid Rules the World.
Challenges involving books aimed at children or young adults make up at
least 75 of every 100 efforts to have a title removed, Krug said.
Absolutely, parents should have the right to decide whether their
children should have access to a book, but that right ends where my nose
begins, said Krug, meaning that others might think that same book was
appropriate for their children.
Objections to books come from all points on the political spectrum, she
said. If the issue is homosexuality, the challenge is likely to come from
religious conservatives, but if the issue is racism, the complaint is more
likely to come from the left, because they're concerned about
eliminating isms Krug said.
In past years, Mark Twain's use of an offensive term for blacks landed
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the most-challenged list. Twain
is missing from the newest list. Offending themes
So is Harry Potter. The Potter series, which concluded this year with the
seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, tops the list of
most challenged titles from 2000 to 2006, but no new Potter book was
published in 2006. Objections have been raised to various titles in the
series because of their frequent violence and because some opponents
maintain that author J.K. Rowling's stories about her young wizard hero
One of the most common themes running through the titles of this year's
top 10 challenged books is homosexuality, cited as grounds for objection
in four books, starting with ��And Tango Makes Three.
Simon and Schuster, the book��s publisher, described ��Tango�� as intended
for 4- to 8-year-olds, but parents in many communities, included Shiloh in
Downstate Illinois, have complained the age range is too young for a story
about a same-sex couple, whether two-legged or two-winged.
The huge majority of parents would avoid this book if they knew it was
brainwashing their children to support and experiment with homosexual
behavior, said Randy Thomasson, president of the California-based
Campaign for Children and Families.
The library association refused to disclose how many challenges have been
mounted against Tango, citing the group's confidentiality policy. But
despite the challenges, the book was not removed from any library last
Parnell, a playwright and TV writer, and Richardson, a psychiatrist, got
the idea for their book after reading a newspaper story about the zoo
We felt that there was an opportunity in this story to talk about
different kinds of families, said Parnell.
To Krug, the way to avoid conflicts is for a library's board to set clear
standards for what it will acquire; but including books that deal with all
manner of subjects is one of the most important functions of a library.
Libraries are one place in the community where everyone is represented
on the shelves, she said.
The entire article can be read at the above URL.
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