September 21st-27th is Banned Books Week: an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. We're honoring intellectual freedom with our Banned Books Event on Friday, September 26th. We've invited local authors Esme Codell, Beatriz Badikian-Gartler, Kathleen Larkin, and Deirdre Harrison to come by City Lit and read passages from their favorite banned books. We'll also be showcasing local high school students who will read from banned books, and some live local music.
Banned Books Week is an important event, bringing attention to issues of censorship and freedom. However, we encourage you to read banned books all year long! Here are a few of our favorite frequently-challenged titles:
Booker T Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida recently cancelled their One Summer/One Book reading program because of the chosen book: Little Brother. The story deals with teeanged hackers who fight back against police state conditions in San Francisco. Apparently the principal was not keen on the "anti-authority" tone of the book, nor of the occasional bad language and references to sex. Author Cory Doctorow took this as an invitation, of course, and has responded by sending 200 copies of the book to students.
And Tango Makes Three consistently tops the list of most-challenged books. It tells the story of two penguins at a zoo who adopt a little penguin as their own. Concerns arise because the two adult penguins are both male. This summer, due to concern about homosexual themes in the book, every library in Singapore was ordered to destroy all copies of Tango.
CPS made international headlines in 2013 when they removed Persepolis from their curriculum. Some stories say the administration ordered all copies to be removed from CPS libraries. Other stories say the book was only removed from middle school libraries. Regardless, the book is no longer taught to CPS students. Any teacher who wishes to use the book in the classroom must go through mandatory training in case students find the book too challenging or "inappropriate."