If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, and frankly, you’ve probably heard that books are being challenged and completely banned across the country. Unfortunately, this is not new. Censorship of reading material dates back to at least the 17th century America (Hello Puritan) and seems to be a leisure activity for certain school systems and organizations. In response, the American Library Association has celebrated its freedom of reading with its annual Banned Books Week since the early 1980s, during which time these books have been spotlighted. Banned Books Week isn’t until September, but given the recent rise in issues, it seems like the best time to highlight some of these titles.
One of the latest books to watch is “Maus” by Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Art Spielberg, based on the recollections of the author’s parents who survived the Holocaust. The Tennessee Board of Education has banned the title and removed it from the curriculum because of words and other “offensive material.” But not everyone seems to find it unpleasant. In the weeks since then, it has soared to the top of the best-selling list, is backordered virtually everywhere, and the library here also has a long hold list. Board of Education, please note: The best way to ensure that a book is widely read is to ban it!
Aside from all jokes, restricting materials in schools and libraries can be permanent and detrimental, especially to the youth they claim to “protect.” Many of the frequently challenged books have LGBTQ content and characters and send a clear message that something is wrong or shameful about queenness. Titles that regularly appear in the list of “most forbidden” materials include Cory Silverberg’s “Sex Isa Funny Word” and Juno Dawson’s “This Book Is Gay.” The first is an award-winning sex education comic aimed at helping parents and caregivers talk more openly and effectively about sex, love, consent, etc. with their children. The latter is described as an interesting, interesting and informative “quest for sexuality and LGBT growth.” Other great titles for kids and teens on the theme of gender identity are George M. Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue”, Maiakobabe’s “Gender Queer” and Alex Gino’s “Melissa” (formerly “Melissa”. Published as “George”).
From Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to Nicole Hannah Jones’ 1619 Project, the library is certainly full of controversial and menacing books. Stop by to check them out or browse the display of challenging materials to find more interesting titles.
Top requested books
1. Amore Taures’s “Lincoln Highway”
2. Jodi Picoult’s “Wish You Were Here”
3. Nita Plow’s “Maid”
4. “One step too far” by Lisa Gardner
5. “Apples Never Fall” by Liane Moriarty
6. “List of Judges” by John Grisham
7. “Apartment in Paris” by Lucy Foley
8. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr
9. “Recovery Agent” by Janet Evanovich
10. “Match” by Harlan Coben
DVD with many requests
2. “House of Gucci”
3. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”
5. “Marvel’s Eternity”
6. “Big and small of all creatures: Season 2”
7. “Dream Plan”
8. “The Beatles: Get Back”
9. “I hate games”
10. “Sing 2”
Monday- Library will be closed for President’s Day
Tuesday – From 10am to 7:30 pm, Crafternoon To-Go – This month I’m working on a magazine wall art. You will receive the kit at the reference until you run out of consumables. From 1 pm to 4 pm Community Resource Advocate – Volunteer Community Resource Advocate helps you connect with local services and resources. Email her at [email protected] 2:30 pm, Virtual Tech Social – Meetings at Zoom every Tuesday to answer technical questions. Pre-registration is required. From 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, a knit and crochet club – a group of knits and crochets are having a meeting at Zoom. For more information on the meeting, please email cwalsh @ westerlylibrary.org.
Thursday – From 4pm to 4:30 pm, join the Teen Book Club – Zoom through the Teen Book Club to chat about the book you’re currently reading and get advice on what to read next. For more information or registration, please email teens @ westerlylibrary.org.
Friday – 4 pm to 4:45 pm, Chopped: Library Edition (7-12 years old) – A show with a twist of the Hit Cooking Contest. Participants receive the mysterious ingredients, go home to create a culinary masterpiece, and zoom in. Registration is required. Check out www.westerlylibrary.org for more information or sign up.
Saturday – 10: 30-11: 30 am, Park and Library Zumba – Try Zumba for fun training! Classes are free and are held in the grass area near the gazebo (if weather permits) or in the terrace room on the 3rd floor (in case of undesired weather).
Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park.