It’s Banned Books Week!

This week has been Banned Books Week, an international campaign by the American Library Association and Amnesty International to promote the freedom of reading and educate people on why different literature is challenged and outlawed throughout the world. Books are banned for all sorts of reasons, ranging from sexual content to political bias. More recently, many books have been challenged due to their content regarding gender identity and sexuality. Books such as George by Alex Gino and Drama by Raina Telgemeier have been challenged and banned in many school libraries across the country due to their features of LGBT characters. One of the most commonly banned books is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was first challenged in 1987 by Baptist College in Charleston, South Carolina because of its language and sexual references. Today, The Great Gatsby is one of the most commonly read books in high schools across the country.

The theme of this year’s Banned Books Week is “Banning Books Silences Stories,” which serves as a reminder to always speak out against censorship, according to the Banned Books Week website. This year, Rancho Mirage High School is taking part, Mrs. Amador, an English teacher, created a display in the hall outside her classroom celebrating the event. Taking a list of banned books, she wrote cautionary signs for each. On top of the cards is what the book was banned for, and underneath is the title. One of the cards, warning that the book was banned for containing profanity and references to witchcraft, turned out to be Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, a children’s classic. Others were less surprising. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling faces challenges even today for its witchy content. Mrs. McCarthy, the RMHS librarian, had something to say about the importance of Banned Books Week, “It brings to light the issue of censorship.”

Banned Books Week is observed by hundreds of schools and libraries across the country. If you would like to participate, a list of the most challenged books of the past year can be found at the Banned Books Week official website.