Posted on October 4, 2022 at 2:50 pm
Thousands of Americans participated in Banned Books Week events, demonstrations and protests late last month, and this year’s event was one of the worst in decades as so-called controversial readings in our schools were attacked .
This is the 40th celebration of an annual event celebrating freedom to read. Banned Books Week began in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries, not unlike what is happening now in our society.
The commemoration aims to “emphasize the value of free and open access to information”. There have been numerous protests across the country as part of this year’s commemoration, calling attention to another effort to ban certain books deemed inappropriate for young people.
The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom compiled a list of questioned books reported by the media and submitted by librarians and teachers.
The latest list includes: “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez, “The Hate U Give” By Angie Thomas, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Me and Earl” by Jesse Andrews, and ” Dying Girl”, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “The Book Is Gay” by June Dawson and “Beyond Magenta” by Susan Cooklin.
Most of these books were banned for allegations of sexually explicit language, profanity, race, racism or LGBTQIA content.
This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us; Censorship Divides Us.” According to the work’s organizers, “Banned Books Week reminds people of the unifying power of stories and the divisive nature of censorship, and calls on readers to take action against where they stand. Community censorship.”
I’m really surprised that there are so few Banned Books Week events in Eastern Pennsylvania. Several teachers in district schools told me they were “fear of stiffness” and didn’t even dare to bring up or talk about the topic for fear of angering parents or their board members.
In eastern Pennsylvania, the only major protest I could find was in Doylestown, Bucks County, where demonstrators dressed in dust jackets of banned books marched through the streets of the Bucks County urban neighborhood.
During Banned Books Week, PEN America, an organization that claims its goal is to “protect public expression” at home and abroad, reported that 11 different Pennsylvania school districts (including the East Stroudsburg area) More than 400 books have been questioned or banned by the Monroe County School District, meaning the state has the second-highest number of banned books after Texas. However, this is a deceptive number because the Central York School District is responsible for 441 of the 459 books banned.
PEN America said the unprecedented number of banned books “often occurs through a coordinated effort by special interest groups.” In its report on the growing movement for school book censorship, the group said what was happening was not a spontaneously expressed concern from parents and other taxpayers, but “a growing number of advocacy groups calling for censorship. work. Certain books and ideas at school are part of their mission.”
According to Jonathan Friedman, director of the organization’s free expression and education program, “Students are losing access to literature that enables them to meet the challenges and complexities of democratic citizenship.” Friedman Mann recently told CNN that parents sometimes ask for a book to be banned without reading it, but act after seeing posts about it on social media.
The PEN America report noted that 50 groups have been at the forefront of the movement to ban books. Key to that is Moms for Liberty, which has a strong Pennsylvania footprint with chapters in 23 counties, including Monroe. The group was “directly linked” to the 20% book ban enacted in the previous school year, the report said.
Bruce Frasinelli | email@example.com
The above views do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or The Times News LLC.