April 14 – National Library Week in the U.S.

Posted on April 14, 2014

Celebrate libraries in general and your local library in particular this week.

The theme this year is Lives Change @ Your Library. You can find stories about exactly how libraries have changed lives and Library Week info here. There are some links to downloadable materials at the American Library Association website

One thing that is happening today is that this year's Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books is released. “Challenged” books are those that have motivated people to write letters of complaint. Well, they don't just complain about the book – they ask that the book be removed from the library or restricted to only certain ages.

Basically, a lot of people who don't want to read a particular book, or don't want their kids to read a book, aren't satisfied with simply skipping that book – they don't want anyone ELSE to read the book, either. We are talking about people attempting to ban books, to censor reading materials.

Why do people want to ban certain books? The top reasons for challenges are for sexual material, “offensive” language, violence, homosexuality, and occult or “Satanic” themes. Many people complain that certain books are unsuited for kids or anti-family.

Really popular books are often the ones that lots of people want to ban. For example, in 2012 the most challenges were about the Captain Underpants series, and in 2011 The Hunger Games trilogy was high on the challenge list. A decade ago the Harry Potter books continually found themselves topping the challenge lists.

By the way, even though librarians receive lots of challenge letters, they very rarely actually ban books. And that's as it should be! After all, each person has the choice NOT to read a book that IS there – but if a book ISN'T there, nobody has a choice.

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