Celebrating Banned Books Week!

This week (September 24-30) marks the beginning of Banned Books Week! During this week, libraries, teachers, and bookstores all around the country encourage you to use your First Amendment rights and read banned and challenged books. 

Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by librarian activist, Judith Krug. Krug, in partnership with the American Library Association, wanted to draw attention to the issue of censorship after the group Moral Majority, led by televangelist Jerry Falwell, began challenging books in public and school libraries. Censorship incidents jumped from 300 in 1980 to nearly 1,000 in 1982. Banned Books Week was founded as a response to this quest for censorship and has been quite successful. In 2016, 323 challenges were reported to the American Library Association.

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Challenges do not always equal a ban. A challenge is the attempt to remove a book from an institution (i.e. schools and libraries), while a ban is the actual removal of that title. This distinction is important to consider. Challenging a book may, in fact, lead to an open discussion about that book’s themes and engage a community. However, if a challenge leads to a ban (it is the first step of a ban, after all), that discussion is cut off.

An argument may be presented that “banning” a book from a library doesn’t totally restrict access to that book. After all, Amazon exists, as well as a host of other retailers. But that’s the problem. Banning a book from a library restricts the FREE access of that book. Libraries exist to serve the entire community, including those who need free access to information. Judith Krug illustrated this point in 2002:

‚ÄúSome users find materials in their local library collection to be untrue, offensive, harmful or even dangerous. But libraries serve the information needs of all of the people in the community‚ÄĒnot just the loudest, not just the most powerful, not even just the majority. Libraries serve everyone.‚ÄĚ

It is precisely because libraries serve everyone that one group cannot be allowed to decide what is offensive to everyone. Literature is an art form, and as such, it is subjective. It is our job as librarians to ensure that every member of our community has equal access to that art. As the old saying goes: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”

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How do I celebrate Banned Books Week?

By reading a banned book, of course! Many books have been banned over the course of history, including classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Call of the Wild, and Beloved. You can find a full list of banned books that helped shape America here.

As discussed above, before books are banned, they are first challenged. The top ten challenged books of 2016 are listed below. Titles with links will take you directly to our catalog, where you can see if the book is available or place a hold!

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  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons:¬†challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the ‚Äúsexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels‚ÄĚ
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons:¬†challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to ‚Äúsexual experimentation‚ÄĚ
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons:¬†challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being ‚Äúdisgusting and all around offensive‚ÄĚ
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language

Go forth and celebrate your First Amendment rights!

You may want to read many of the banned/challenged books in these lists, or none at all. Celebrating Banned Books Week is as much about reading what you desire as it is about not infringing on the rights of others to do the same.

Let us know what banned or challenged book you’re reading in the comments below!

 

Sources: 

A. (2017, April). The State of America’s Libraries 2017. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report-2017.pdf

About. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about

Crum, M. (2015, September 28). This Is Why You Should Celebrate Banned Books Week. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/celebrate-banned-books-week_us_56096a1ae4b0768126fe4cca

Jerry Falwell, Judith Krug, and the Origins of ‚ÄėBanned Books¬†Week‚Äô. (2015, October 02). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://longreads.com/2015/10/02/jerry-falwell-judith-krug-and-the-origins-of-banned-books-week/

 

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Summer Reading Program Review

There we go! It’s all over! What a great Summer Reading Program we had this year. A special thanks to all who participated, and thanks to all our sponsors that helped us put the program on.

The Totals

SRP Banners

In total we had 410 young people participate in the SRP; 92 of them were preschool aged, 209 were school aged, 68 were teenagers, and 41 came from daycare programs! Tadpoles submitted 228 early literacy sheets, Frogs read for 1722 hours, and the Teens read 1048 hours.  Everyone did a great job and we hope to see you keep coming to the library to get books during the school year.

However the SRP wasn’t just for the children, we had an adult program as well. There was a total of 100 adult readers who read a total of 350 books. That’s more than 3 books a person! We have compiled a list of all the books that were rated with 5 stars, which you can find at Jenifer’s desk.

The Winners

prize winners

What more can be said! These kids did a great job reading and won the raffle drawings for the Super Reader prizes. The Tadpoles winner won the LeadFrog Leap Pad, the Frogs winner won an iPad mini, and the Teen winner won a set of Beats headphones. The Adult winner won a Kindle Fire HDX.

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Once again, thanks to everyone involved and who participated in our Summer Reading Program. You helped make this year a success and we hope to see you again next year!

Graphic Novels Are NOT Throw Away Literature

Let me start by saying, the goal is to get people reading. It doesn’t matter what the reading material is (it could be the cereal box), just as long as you are reading. By the way, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re reading and I couldn’t be happier. That being said, there is a medium that is being looked down upon as lesser literature; that we can somehow pretend that these books don’t exist, and that they will simply go away because we ignore them. These books (if you haven’t guessed it) are Graphic Novels.

does not equal

There is a difference between graphic novels and comic books. Graphic novels are usually longer, and tell a complete story from beginning to end. On the other hand, a comic book comes in installments that can tell a whole story, or is a compilation of several smaller stories. To put it another way, Batman: The Killing Joke is a graphic novel, Garfield at Large is a comic book.

reading graphic novels

Since they were first introduced in the late 70’s, graphic novels have been looked at as “for children”. While this is certainly the case for some, there are still others that can reach us in a way that no “regular” book can. That’s the point of literature; to affect as many people as possible, and help them see the world in a different light. How are they regarded as “for children”, you may ask? Simple. They have pictures! Some of them bight and beautiful, while others are dark and gritty.

superheroes

Another reason that graphic novels are looked down upon is because a large portion of them are superhero stories. While superhero stories can also be good literature (that is for a later post), this isn’t reflective of the whole group of books. Several of them seek to put us into the shoes of someone else. I recently read a post talking about this. It focused on a graphic novel called The Complete Persepolis by¬†Marjane Satrapi. The book is the author’s story of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. She uses the pictures to help her audience enter into her world.

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Page from The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Graphic novels have shown a light on several topics over their years that are beyond the good vs evil motif of superhero stories. Here are just a few:

  • Blankets by Craig Tompson – the adolescent years and questioning faith
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – stories of Holocaust survivors
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman – philosophical conversations between ideas and historical figures
  • Y: The Last Man by Brain K Vaugh – feminism
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore – critique on the superhero genre, capitalism, and the nuclear arms race
  • Pyongyang by Greg Delisle – the culture of North Korea

“Graphic novels are not traditional literature, but that does not mean they are second-rate. Images are a way of writing. When you have the talent to be able to write and to draw, it seems a shame to choose one. I think it’s better to do both.” — Marjane Satrapi

Essentially my claim is that we shouldn’t write off graphic novels because of what they are. Give them a try. They can be just as good as any other “regular” novel. If you need helping picking one out, you can always go to your local library and ask a librarian for some help. Take the opportunity, while libraries across the county do Summer Reading, to try something new.

Summer Reading Preview

Well it’s that time of year again. The time where kids and adults go crazy, and read a TON of books! Of course that isn’t all that happens. So read on and get a bit of a preview over what’s happening this year for the Summer Reading Program (SRP).

Who?

SRP Banners

The SRP is designed for all ages. The Tadpoles group is meant for children from birth to preschool. They will have sheets designed to increase their early literacy skills with the help of parents. The Frogs group will be for school age children (up to children going into 5th grade). These children will have time-logs to fill out, to designate the hours they’ve put into their books. The Teens have their own program too! This is open to all young people from entering 6th grade to going into 12th (if they have graduated high school, they aren’t teens anymore). They have to keep track of their time as well, but in order to qualify for the Super Reader prize they must turn in a small book review. The final group is the Adults. The adult program is for everyone from after High School till you can’t read anymore.

What? (The Super Reader Prize)

SRP Prizes

Each group has it’s own super reader prize!

  • Tadpoles: Leap Pad Ultra XDI w/ Get Ready for Kindergarten bundle
  • Frogs: iPad Mini
  • Teens: Beats Headphones
  • Adults: Kindle Fire HDX Tablet

When?

SRP Calendar

May 27: Sign-up Day

On May 27th, registration for the SRP will officially open up. Come in anytime after we open and register. This applies to all of the programs.

May 30: Superhero Saturday

Keeping up with the theme of this year’s SRP, our big kickoff party will be Superhero Saturday! Meet us at Pleasantview Elementary School between 11am-1pm. There will be a bounce house, Super Hero training, Super Hero masks, as well as a photo booth to take your own heroic picture.

June 3rd: Snakehead Ed (Tadpoles & Frogs) / Masked Marshmallow Men (Teens)

June 10th: CR Ryan Magic Show / Frankentoy Friends

June 17th: Ruditoonz / Caped Crusader Cubies

June 24th: Jill’s Giant Adventure / Comic Collages

July 8th: The Water Show / Masquerade

July 11th: Final day to pick up weekly prizes

If you would like anymore information about the events of the SRP, please contact our Youth Librarian.

Where?


All programming (except Superhero Saturday) is scheduled to take place at Morrow’s Meadow. The Tadpoles & Frogs programming will begin at 2pm and the Teen programming will be right after at 3. If the weather disagrees with us, our rain location is the PVE gym.

How to get prizes?

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Tadpoles will have a sheet full of early literacy activities. Once they do all they activities on 1 sheet they can turn it in and receive a prize. Want to earn more? You child can turn in up to 3 sheets a week for a prize! In order to be entered for the Super Reader prize you must turn in 10 pages for 1 ticket. So keep the pages coming in all summer long.

Frogs will have a time log they will have to use to keep track of their time reading. Once they reach a total of 1 hour reading, they get a prize! Just like the Tadpoles, your child can turn in up to 3 hours per week for a prize. For 1 ticket in the Super Reader prize your child must read 20 hours.

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Teens will have a time log as well, but we’ve raised their reading requirement. Teens will have to read 8 hours a week to be entered into the weekly prize drawings. 8 hours will equal 1 ticket, so read more to get more tickets in the weekly drawing. In order to get tickets in the Super Reader prize drawing, you must turn in a small book review of a book at your reading level.

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Adults will have weekly prizes as well. Simply turn in a small review of a book and get a ticket placed into the drawing. All tickets are kept to be put into the Super Reader drawing. So the more books you read, the better your chances at getting that Kindle Fire!

If you want to stay on top of what is going on with the SRP you can always check out our Facebook page, or there is a page dedicated to the Summer Reading Program. Make sure to start coming in on May 27 (that’s this Wednesday) to sign up.

Any questions? Never be afraid to contact us or leave a comment!

Staff Picks: At the Water’s Edge

Adult Collection/Local History Librarian: Becky Bray
Adult Collection/Local History Librarian: Becky Bray

In this week’s post, I thought I would ask a fellow staff member about what they are reading. So I sat down with the lady in charge of the Adult Collection to find out what book she’s into at the moment.

watersedge

What book are you reading?

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen which came out in March of 2015

What other books is the author known for?

She has written several books, but is probably most known for Water for Elephants.

What is the book about?

This is a novel of secrets, relationships, betrayal, and monsters — both real and imagined. The novel begins in Philadelphia in 1944 and ends in Scotland, where the main characters are in search of the Loch Ness monster. The two main male characters are both wealthy and have lead a sheltered life of privilege, and have been deemed ineligible to serve in the military. One has married beneath his station in life, and she reluctantly follows the two across the Atlantic in a time of war. While the female character learns to appreciate the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and the people (becoming stronger in character as time goes by), the men are treated with contempt by the locals. Thus begins the deterioration of their relationships and while searching for the elusive Loch Ness monster, other monsters are revealed.

What have you liked (or disliked) about this book?

I enjoyed this novel and I would recommend this for anyone who wanted a good read that did not require a lot of attention to¬†detail. I enjoyed the main female character and I felt the author described the paths she had to walk to survive, whether of her own choosing or not, very realistically. I’m not usually drawn to novels that take place during WWII. The author included many rich details of the daily struggles of life in Scotland during the war, but it was secondary to the main story line.

¬†‚ÄúA daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII.‚ÄĚ — Harper’s Bazaar

Tell us what you think. Does this book sound interesting to you? Let us know in the comments. You can grab the book from our catalog in either Large Print or eBook. Need help navigating the catalog? Be sure to check out one of our previous posts.