Book Bingo: Banned books

   — Posted by Abby

Book Bingo BannedThis summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Stay tuned for more throughout the summer!

As long as there have been books, there have been people who find the ideas contained within them dangerous and deserving of censorship. Since we live in a democratic nation where freedom of expression is a cherished value protected by the First Amendment, it’s easy to believe that book banning is a relic of the past. Yet even here, hundreds of books are challenged and removed from libraries every year.

Many of these challenges and removals take place in school libraries and curricula & involve books written for youth, but books written for adults have been challenged at public libraries as well. Here are a few from the past decade for the Banned Books square on your Summer Book Bingo card:

Fun HomeFun Home by Alison Bechdel. Hard to believe now that it’s the basis for a Tony-award winning musical, but this graphic memoir about a lesbian cartoonist’s complex relationship with her closeted father was challenged by community members at the Marshall Public Library in Missouri in 2006 due to its “pornographic” content. Retained.

The AwakeningThe Awakening by Kate Chopin. In 2011, a patron at the Oconee County Library in Georgia was upset by a painting of a woman’s naked chest on the cover of the book, a 19th-century classic about a woman who challenges social mores, and demanded its removal from the collection. Retained.

League Black DossierThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore. This graphic novel was named, along with three other works, in a petition with 950 signatures submitted to the board of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky asking the library to remove the titles and revise their collection policy. Retained after it was moved to a different section of the library.

Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Removed, then later returned to the shelves of Brevard County Public Library in Florida “in response to public demand.” Several public library systems around the country refused to acquire copies of this popular racy romantic trilogy.

All the information about these challenges came from Banned Books: Challenging Our Freedom to Read, a resource guide published by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2014. Check out ALA’s website for current lists of the most frequently banned and challenged titles for all ages to get more ideas. Our librarians have also put together a list of some banned books in our collection. Have fun playing Book Bingo and exercising your freedom to read!

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