This year’s Banned Book Week is focusing on the diversity of authors and ideas that have prompted a disproportionate share of challenges. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom estimates that more than half of all banned books are by authors of color or ones that represent groups of viewpoints outside the mainstream. As a result, this week we will be sharing some reviews of our favorite banned books that fit this category.

The ALA’s website has a list of Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content and another list of Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color 1990-1999. Check out these lists for suggestions of books to read that fit into this year’s theme.


This first day we will be looking at a couple graphic novels that frequently make this list: Habibi by Craig Thompson, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. There are many other graphic novels that have been banned and frequently challenged, but we’re just focusing on these three today. (Stay tuned and you may see more later this week!)


habibiHabibi by Craig Thompson frequently finds itself on the top ten list of most frequently challenged books. In fact, this graphic novel is number 8 on the top ten list of 2015. Habibi is frequently banned for reasons of nudity, sexually explicitness, and unsuited for age group. The challenging and banning of this graphic novel deprives readers of this intense story of love and relationships, more specifically the commonalities found between Christianity and Islam, as well as an examination of the cultural divide present between first and third worlds.

Habibi tells the story of Dolola, a young girl sold into marriage to a scribe who teaches her to read and write. She is captured by slave traders, but escapes, taking with her an abandoned toddler. They take refuge in an abandoned boat in the desert for the next nine years where Dolola teaches Zam how the world works by telling him stories from the Qur’an and the Bible.  They are separated and fight for the next six years to get back to each other.


persepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi did not make the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 list, but it still made the longer list. It was #2 on the 2014 list. Persepolis is frequently banned for the following reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, graphic depictions, and for being politically racially, and socially offensive.

Persepolis is a cultural eye-opener, a story that shows that the grass is not always greener on the other side, no matter your life circumstances. This graphic novel centers around the Islamic revolution and tells the story of Marjane’s childhood in Tehran. Growing up in a country in the midst of political upheaval means that her public life and her private life constantly contradicted each other. Her free-thinking family gives Marjane the strength to find herself even though her youth was formed during such a tumultuous time.


fun-homeFun Home by Alison Bechdel, just like the previous two graphic novels, is a frequent flyer on the challenged list. This graphic novel is frequently challenged for violence and other graphic images. The reason Fun Home finds itself as one of our diverse banned book selections is because of the subject matter.

Fun Home is Bechdel’s childhood autobiography. She tells the story of her closeted gay father, a man who was an English teacher and the owner/operator of the local funeral home. His secrets overshadow the lives of everyone else in the family, throwing Bechdel’s emerging womanhood and her homosexuality as a side player in the drama of his life. In her early teens, he goes to court over his relationship with a young boy while his death, most likely a suicide, trumps her coming out. This book is full of death, suicide, homosexuality, family strife, tragedy, desperation, violence, and other graphic images that make Fun Home a key player on the banned/challenged book list each year.


Check back tomorrow for more banned books!

Banned Books Week

 

What are Banned Books? Books that have been removed from schools or libraries.

Why are books banned? The top three reasons for banned books are as follows:

1. The material was considered to be “sexually explicit.”

2. The material contained “offensive language.”

3. The material was “unsuited for any age group.”

Why do we have Banned Books Week? Founded in 1982 and celebrated annually during the last week in September, it is an awareness campaign for the Freedom to Read.

How can you participate in Banned Books Week?

Many local libraries will be participating in Banned Books Week by either holding programs or creating displays. The Bettendorf Public Library will be hosting Banned Song Fest on Monday, September 28 at 6:30 pm. Local musicians will preform banned songs and music styles in honor of Banned Books Week. At the Rock Island Public Library local librarians and writers will read from banned books on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:00 pm. The Davenport Public Library will have displays at each location where you can learn about and check out a variety of banned books.

Banned Books

The top ten challenged books of 2014

The 100 most banned/challenged books from 2000-2009

 

the absolutely true diary The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is currently ranked number 1 for the most challenged books of 2014 according to The American Library Association. While this book is considered YA fiction, it is based on the real life events of Native American Author Sherman Alexie. I read this book while attending graduate school as part of a multicultural literature course.  The book is about Arnold, an incredibly smart Native American boy living on a reservation. He is given the opportunity to attend an all white school outside of the reservation. This book highlights not only some of the struggles of Native Americans living on reservations, but dives deep into what it took for this character to break away from his life on the reservation. When I finished reading the book I immediately researched the author. It was shocking to read that this work is semi-autobiographical, but still all the more important that this book remain on shelves. Anyone should have the opportunity to read this book. Why is the book challenged/banned? The book contains themes and elements of alcohol abuse, sex, violence, bullying, and racial issues.
go ask aliceGo Ask Alice was published in 1971 and for many years was thought to be the anonymous diary of a troubled teenager that became addicted to drugs. It was later revealed to have been written by Beatrice Sparks, a psychologist, only partially based on one of her patient’s diaries. Since this revelation, the book is considered a work of fiction. I read this books several years ago as I was making my way through a list of top 100 books that everyone should read. While the book does tend to be over the top in certain circumstances, it does include so much of the feelings and thoughts experienced by young women. Why is this book challenged/banned? Despite being published over 40 years ago, the book has never been out of print and still remains high up in the list of challenged/banned books. The book contains drug use, sex, and offensive language.

 

 

Here at the Davenport Public Library, we are celebrating our freedom to read during Banned Books Week by reading frequently challenged and banned books.  From September 22nd until the 28th, we encourage you to stop by one of the DPL locations and pick up one of the books that have been banned or challenged at libraries across the country.  We will have many of the books on display, and as always, stop by the reference desk and we’ll help you find the book you need.  You might be surprised to find one of your favorites on the list.

The 10 most frequently challenged books of 2012:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Scary Stories Series by Alvin Schwartz, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Beloved by Toni Morrison

Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association; it’s purpose is to celebrate the freedom to read. At the Davenport Public Library, we’ve got displays up at our three locations showing some of the many books that have been challenged, banned or restricted over the years.  You might be surprised to find some of your favorite titles on the list!  Here are a few of my favorites that someone, at sometime, deemed inappropriate:

Come check out our display and accompanying brochure with titles of even more banned books.  Maybe this would be the perfect time to read one!