Sept.27th -Oct 3rd 2015 is Banned Books Week and this year I’ve been lucky to have an interview with senior librarian of 21stCenturyville, Ms. Viva Libriani.
Ms.Libriani will be seen this year leading the march with her trademark chant Lack of fREADdom sucks…No More banned books!
But she was not always a champion for this cause. Viva was raised in the town of Sittingonthefenceville and with little opportunities open to her, she won a scholarship to University at UNM (University for the Narrow Minded) in Uberconservativetown. During her time at university and she expanded her own reading material and things started to feel uncomfortable. It all came to a head after she’d worked for several years as a librarian in Uberconservativetowm. When I spoke with her, she talked of her time there.
“At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everyone was pretty much the same as folks from Sittingonthefenceville. But the more I read, the more I had difficulty with decisions that were being made. Then three young girls changed my life. The first asked me why there were no books that made her think. A couple of months later, the second asked why we never carried books that questioned life. The final straw for me was when a ten year old girl with her blonde pigtails flying checked out some books and said ‘You know Mom’s right, ignorance is bliss.’ The girl gave a little wave and left the building.”
Ms. Libriani paused for a moment to wipe her eyes.
“I couldn’t stand it anymore. I gave my notice, went home, cut off my long hair I’d kept tied up in a bun and went straight to Inky Pinky’s and got a tiny tattoo on my ankle of a book with wings.” Viva laughed as she looked down at her arms . “I guess I picked up these once I got to 21stCenturyville.”
Viva Libriani has become a heroine for many of us who’ve struggled with the idea of being limited as to what we can read, particular books banned in schools and libraries, where children and young adults have no choice in acquiring them elsewhere. I like her too because she wanted to be different and broke an old-fashioned stereotype of the straight-laced and judgmental librarian. Tattoos aren’t for everyone, but loads of librarians live in 21stCenturyville these days.
Back to Reality
Viva Viviani may only live in my imagination, but the threat to everyone’s right to read what they want in the USA is real: there were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom this year. Here are links to the 10 most challenged titles of 2014. Thanks for this list goes to my local bookstore Copperfield’s Books who also sell new, used and rare books online.
1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
2) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
5) It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:
7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
9) A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
10) Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit
I thought it was interesting that 7 of these titles had an issue with sexuality. Does no-one see what’s on TV these days? If you want more information about the issue or how to get involved, check out the American Library Association or my post Should we Ever Ban Books. Who knows, maybe Viva will answer your call or email.
Have you had any experience of not being able to get books you wanted in the US , or another country. How do you think we should deal with this issue? Should any books, other than perhaps ones that might put people, particular children, in physical danger, be banned?
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