Dispatches | September 27, 2009

September 26 through October 3 kicks off The American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to “celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.”  The BannedBooksWeek.org site features a new book censorship map that reveals the locations of book challenges that have been made between 2007 and 2009.

Whenever I hear the term “banned books,” I always think of conservative housewives from the 50’s or overzealous religious parents worried about Harry Potter, so I was very surprised to see that book censorship is still a common occurrence. In St. Louis alone in 2008 over a dozen titles were challenged in the St. Louis County libraries, many of which were non-fiction books on sexuality and sexual health.  I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and was surprised to see that Toni Morrison’s Beloved was actually removed and banned at one of the local high schools in 2009.  I thought it was funny that in North Stafford, Virigina A People’s History of The United States was banned because it was considered by some to be “un-American.”   While the map can be a bit humorous, it’s still an unsettling reminder of the power some people possess concerning censorship and it makes me wonder what people are so afraid of.