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Banned Books at the Swisher Library

Poll: Which banned classic is your favorite?

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut: 2 votes (15.38%)
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck: 3 votes (23.08%)
Beloved, by Toni Morrison: 1 votes (7.69%)
Animal Farm, by George Orwell: 1 votes (7.69%)
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck: 0 votes (0%)
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker: 1 votes (7.69%)
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger: 3 votes (23.08%)
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley: 1 votes (7.69%)
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee: 1 votes (7.69%)
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 13

Banned and Challenged Books in the Media and Scholarly Sources

Up for the Fight
Published in Publishers Weekly - June 13, 2022

Summary: The article discusses censorship of comics and graphic novels in schools and public libraries. Topics discussed include claims of Organizations such as Moms for Liberty that award winning books often push racial agendas; list of books Moms for Liberty wants to be removed from libraries, including classics like "The Kite Runner," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and "Slaughterhouse-Five;" and response of Tina Coleman, membership specialist for the American Library Association.

With Rising Book Bans, Librarians Have Come Under Attack
Published in the International New York Times - July 7, 2022

Summary: This news article tells the story of librarians who left their jobs due to the rising tensions in their communities surrounding book challenges from community members. The author also discusses how the role of “librarian” has changed in recent years.

Adults: Banning Books. Kids: Writing Their Own 
Published in the New York Times - April 24, 2022

Introduction: Book bans are still a hot topic for some adults. In schools around the country, they are trying to force libraries to remove books that include stories that mention gender and sexuality or are about L.G.B.T.Q. characters. But at North Yarmouth Academy in Yarmouth, Maine, the opposite just happened. This winter, a new book about a trans girl named Alex was added to the library shelves. Its authors: a handful of middle-schoolers.

Teens fight for the right to read with 'banned-book clubs' and lawsuits
Published in The Washington Post - May 17,2022

Summary: This news article tells the stories of diverse teen booklovers across the country who have formed banned books themed book clubs, testified before Congress about the importance of the availability of diverse stories, and even filed lawsuits with the American Civil Liberties Union in an effort to roll back book bans in their communities.

CENSORSHIP AND SILENCE: How book bans and removals threaten diverse stories and voices
Published in Literacy Today Magazine - April-June 2022

Introduction: Challenges to books and classroom content are not new. What is different now is the singular focus on books that feature characters that represent diverse and previously unrepresented voices in children’s literature. Hidden behind the calls to protect children from explicit content and the rhetoric around critical race theory is an intention to silence the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQ people and people of color. The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom reported that they have never had the amount of challenges to books in schools and classrooms that they are experiencing now. Recent censorship attempts are often associated with sex and sexuality, critical race theory, ethnicity/race, gender, and nontraditional family structures. Each year during National Library Month, which is celebrated in April in the United States, ALA shares its top 10 most reported titles challenged during the preceding year. In 2020, the list was topped by Melissa by Alex Gino (Scholastic), previously published as George, which is about a young transgender girl, along with books featuring African American protagonists who face racism. In speaking about the recent challenges in a statement released in November 2021, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, noted that the current challenges focus largely on LGBTQ issues and books by Black authors or about the experiences of people of color.

America's Top Librarian on the Rise of Book Bans

Episode of the Ezra Klien Show, published by The New York Times - September 12, 2023

Episode Description: Public libraries around the country have become major battlegrounds for today's culture wars. In 2022, the American Library Association noted a record 1,269 attempts at censorship - almost double the number recorded in 2021. Library events like drag story times and other children's programming have also attracted protest. How should we understand these efforts to control what stories children can freely access? Emily Drabinski is the president of the American Library Association and an associate professor at the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. She is steering an embattled organization at a moment when libraries - and librarians themselves - are increasingly under fire.

Amanda Gorman addresses book bans in 1st interview since poem was restricted in a Florida school

Video interview broadcasted by CBS Mornings - June 7, 2023

Interview Introduction: Poet Amanda Gorman appeared on "CBS Mornings" . . . for her first interview since her poem and book, "The Hill We Climb," was restricted in a Florida school in May. 

A fireproof copy of 'Handmaid's Tale' auctioned for $130,000 to help fight book bans
Report published by NPR’s website – June 7, 2022

Introduction: Bidding on a special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale ended on Tuesday afternoon, when the book was auctioned by Sotheby's for $130,000. Proceeds from the auction will go to PEN America's efforts to fight book banning.
Link to video referenced: The Unburnable Book: Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID'S TALE

Banned books are back in the spotlight — but they've always been for this book club
Interview broadcast on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday – February 6, 2022

Introduction: Juana Summers talks with David Rafferty and Blanca Noriega of the Banned Book Club in Tacoma, Wash., about the value they see in reading books some find objectionable.

Young readers suffer when books are banned, says Canadian poet Rupi Kaur
Interview and video published by CBC News – May 17, 2022

Summary: Interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Jenna Benchetrit and poet Rupi Kaur about the poet’s debut book of poetry being the subject of book challenges and bans in the US.

An Idaho school board banned 23 books. So a local bookstore gave out copies for free.
Report broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered – June 9, 2022

Introduction: A school board in a Boise suburb banned books and state lawmakers cut state library funding — so a local bookstore raised money to buy banned books to distribute for free.

Encore: A library system announces a program to challenge the tide of book bans
Interview broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered – April 27, 2022

Introduction: As more and more school districts ban books from their classrooms and libraries, the Brooklyn Public Library is sharing its resources with teens around the country to fight encroaching censorship.

Nationwide effort to ban books challenge freedom of speech
Video clip from PBS NewsHour - March 10, 2022

Introduction: Advocates are sounding the alarm about a set of measures that they say target teaching and writing related to LGBTQ issues, race and freedom of speech. Around the country, efforts to ban specific books or even whole categories of books are on the rise.

The Books Getting Banned From Schools 
Video created by Vice News - May 27, 2022

Introduction: There have been at least 1,586 book bans in U.S. schools since last summer, the highest number in decades. VICE News dives into why the bans are happening, what books are getting pulled, and how some students are losing access to information about themselves.

Out of Darkness, Into the Fire
Episode of Professor Amna Khalid’s Banished podcast - December 8, 2021

Introduction: Author and professor Ashley Hope Pérez gained prominence for her novel Out of Darkness, which explores themes of segregation, love and family against the backdrop of the 1937 New London School explosion. The book won rave reviews from critics and the Américas Award from the Library of Congress, but has recently become embroiled in controversy after calls to ban it from school libraries. Today on Banished, host Amna Khalid speaks with Pérez about the firestorm surrounding her book, and the rise in concerted efforts from a certain part of the political spectrum to censor literature that might highlight the troubling history of gender and race relations in the United States.

Something to Offend Everyone
Episode of Brooklyn Public Library’s Borrowed podcast – April 9, 2019

Introduction: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” So goes the quote from librarian Jo Godwin. From Dr. Seuss to kosher books to Drag Queen Story Hour, this episode will explore what it means to challenge censorship, and what happens when patrons disagree with content in the library.

Bonus: Banned Books
Episode of NPR’s It’s Been a Minute podcast – December 5, 2021

Introduction: In this episode of It's Been A Minute NPR senior editor Barrie Hardymon and Traci Thomas, host of The Stacks podcast, joined guest host Ayesha Rascoe to talk about banned book lists. The three talk about why it's important for kids to discover books freely, even if that means starting a hard conversation with them. They also discuss their favorite — and least favorite — books that often show up on banned book lists.

Eight episode podcast series created by NBC News - 2021

Introduction: Southlake, Texas, seems to have it all: stately homes, intense civic pride, and above all, terrific schools. So when a video surfaced in 2018 showing Southlake high school students chanting the N-word — and when Black residents came forward to share stories of racist harassment and bullying — the school board vowed to make changes. But the unveiling of a Cultural Competence Action Plan set off a backlash that’s consumed Southlake, fueled by a growing national crusade against critical race theory. Hosted by NBC News national reporter Mike Hixenbaugh (host of the hit podcast “Do No Harm”) and NBC News correspondent Antonia Hylton, “Southlake” tells the story of how this idyllic city, and its local school board election, became the poster child for a new political strategy with national repercussions.

Banned Books: A History of Putting Books on Blast
Episode of The Story Behind podcast – September 27, 2018

Summary: A short history lesson of book banning – discusses what it believed to have been the first ever recorded book ban all the way back in 2010 BC.

List of podcasts sourced from School Library Journal’s article, Censors Bypass Policies, in their January 2022 (Volume 68, Issue 1) edition.

Challenges to Children's Picture Books with LGBTQ Themes: A 30-Year Review
Published in The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children – Summer 2022

Abstract: The article presents the author's views on the American Library Association's Top 10 Most Challenged Books of the year lists from 2001 to 2020 with LGBTQ themes which can be classified in the children's picture book genre. It emphasizes looking at the stories behind the challenges. The books include "Heather Has Two Mommies," "Uncle Bobby's Wedding," and "This Day in June."

Examining Patterns within Challenged or Banned Primary Elementary Books
Published in Journal of Curriculum Studies Research - 2020

Abstract: Public schools and public libraries often receive challenges—suppression or removal requests—to particular books, which can lead the book being banned. Research has examined challenges to books with multicultural themes and individuals, noted that authors of color are disproportionally targeted, and recognized the remarkable number of challenges to books deemed to be classic. This qualitative content analysis research utilized both with inductive and deductive elements—open coding and axial coding—to examine challenged books intended for primary elementary students. The theoretical framework blended critical multiculturalism, gay and lesbian identity, and radical politics in children’s literature. Findings included patterns based on era, frequency and location of challenge, demography of challenger, and oft-challenged themes, specifically sexuality (sexual reproduction and diverse sexualities), inappropriate humor, danger, death, racial and religious diversity, mysticism and wizardry, racially or culturally insensitive elements, concerning interpersonal dynamics, and evolution. Meaning is extracted for teachers, librarians, administrators, and researchers.

"Please Let This be the Crassest Thing My Child Reads!": Exploring Community Perceptions of Challenged Children's Literature
Published in Reading Psychology – July 2020

Abstract: Research suggests fear of parental backlash is a primary reason why teachers preemptively censor books, yet parents' beliefs about challenged children's books are understudied. This study's purpose was to investigate adults' beliefs about challenged children's literature as expressed through reading and discussing challenged books within an adult book club at a public library. Contributions from the seven participants revealed three themes in the way they discussed challenged children's books, including making judgments about what constitutes a good book, describing engagement with the books, and the imperative of adults to make book selections on behalf of children. The findings suggest that some adults see value in reading challenged literature and their beliefs about what is appropriate for children are malleable. These findings challenge one of teachers' main rationales for engaging in preemptive censorship, and additionally, they have implications for practice as teachers consider how they utilize challenged literature in school settings.

How to Ban a Book and Get Away With It: Educational Suitability and School Board Motivations in Public School Library Book Removals
Published in Iowa Law Review – November 2021

Abstract: When public school officials remove books from their school libraries, they run the risk of violating students' First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court held in Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico that it is unconstitutional for a school board to remove a book based on the school board's disagreement with the ideas expressed in that book. However, the Court maintained that a book could properly be removed based on its "educational suitability." Although this standard has influenced most of the subsequent book removal cases, it has not consistently been applied. Recently, school boards have attempted to justify their removal decisions based on "educational suitability," despite substantial evidence that those removals were politically motivated. At least one school board has argued successfully on educational suitability grounds, in part, because the Eleventh Circuit failed to critically analyze the record for evidence of viewpoint-based motivations. This trend is likely to continue. Thus, this Note argues that courts should abandon the Pico test and replace it with a more objective standard, based on the principles set forth in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.