A Tribute to the Freedom to Read during Banned Books Week

September 15, 2014 | Did You Know


Censorship is an ongoing problem and occurs in schools and libraries every year across the United States. According to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, in 2013, more than 300 books were challenged in the United States, based on issues of content or appropriateness, in order to restrict access or even prompt removal from shelves or curriculum. To highlight the value of free and open access of information, Broward College is commemorating the freedom to read by drawing attention to challenged, restricted, removed and banned books, across the globe.

Vicky Santiesteban, assistant professor of English and faculty advisor for Broward College’s literary magazine Pan’Ku, with the help of her Creative Writing class, compiled a list of selections of classic and contemporary books that have been censored throughout the years –

  • Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is the most representative because banning a book about burning books is so ironic. Since publication in 1953, it has been challenged for many reasons, including that the text mentions that the Bible is burned.
  • George Orwell’s “1984” is most well-known for dealing with themes of nationalism, sexual repression, censorship, surveillance and privacy. In 1950, it was banned by the Soviet Union due to its parallels and perceived criticism of Stalin’s rule, until 1990.
  • J.D. Salinger’s “Cather in the Rye” has been cited for language, sexual scenes, blasphemy, moral issues and violence numerous times through the years.  From 1966 to 1975, it was one of the most banned book in schools.
  • Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” was banned in China in 1865 for its use of personification. The General Ho Chien didn’t approve that the story attributed human characteristics, such as speech, to anything other than human beings and didn’t want children to view animals and humans as equals.
  • Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” was temporarily banned for “obscenity” in many different countries, including France, England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. In 1958, the Cincinnati Public Library also banned it, and the next week it became a number one bestseller.
  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” has been challenged for reasons of “sexual content and homosexual themes” as well as because it was deemed “too depressing.” It was most recently challenged in May of 2013 in Northville, Michigan.
  • Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” has been removed or challenged by four schools in the past year. It was removed as required reading in a Queens, New York, pulled from the Jefferson County, West Virginia schools, challenged in a Oregon Junior High English class, as well nearly removed from a tenth-grade required reading list in Billings, Montana for the novel’s “graphic nature.”
  • Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” was temporarily removed in 2013 from the Alamogordo, New Mexico High School library and curriculum for what was deemed by one parent as “inappropriate content.”

Explore these books or learn more from our University College Library at our Davie Campus.

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