1.) the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts.
The American Library Association and the Office for Intellectual Freedom are celebrating our freedom to read, and I’m so excited to be celebrating right along with them and a host of great guests who’ll be joining us throughout the week.
From George Orwell’s 1984 to Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, the evils of censorship have long been explored in literature within dystopian worlds where government propaganda and Newspeak and the burning of books have represented the concept of knowledge vs ignorance and the control of a totalitarian regime that wishes to manipulate how and what its citizens think.
The reality, however, and why this week is integral, is that the effort to ban and censor books, to keep them off both public and school library shelves and out of classrooms, isn’t the stuff of an author’s imagination. These efforts are a clear and present threat in our reality and why the ALA and OIF exist, why this week exists: to draw attention to the fact that there are those who fight to keep books out of the hands of others simply because they don’t want those books to exist at all. Racism, sexism, homophobia, religious (or anti-religious) posturing all play a part in the challenges lobbed against books from To Kill a Mockingbird to Harry Potter to the Holy Bible to Two Boys Kissing.
We all know that a good book doesn’t tell us what to think or how to think, but a good book will make us think, and that’s why it’s imperative to maintain diversity in fiction and non-fiction. Positive representation matters, regardless of whether that means strong female characters, LGBTQ+ characters, or people of color and diverse ethnicity and religious beliefs. Everyone deserves to see themselves written into the pages of a book in an affirming way. And, of course, while not every book has been challenged, we do see, within the LGBTQ+ genre, the sort of passive censorship that exists when a teen can’t walk into their school library and find a book on the shelf with characters who look like them.
So, to kick off the week of celebrations, we’ve got four great giveaways for you of some of my favorite frequently challenged books, AND a giveaway from author Mary Calmes too!
Grand Prize: A Print Copy of Mary Calmes’s Timing, book one in the Timing series, shipped worldwide
2nd Prize: An e-copy of one of my all-time fave YA novels, David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy
3rd Prize: An e-copy of another David Levithan classic and favorite, Two Boys Kissing
4th Prize: An e-copy of another of my all-time faves, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Good luck and read all the banned books!