Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the potential harm of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
Here are a few classic examples of books that have been challenged or banned:
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This classic tale of race relations in 1960s Alabama was challenged multiple times in the 1970s and 1980s for inclusion of harsh language.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: The book, published by Ballantine Books, was originally published with 75 passages altered to remove offensive words. In addition, parts of the story were changed. In 1979 a friend alerted Bradbury to the edits and he demanded that future editions be published as originally written.
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: The book was praised by critics and literary figures when first published in 1850. However, many clergymen did denounce it as "a dirty story". In 1852, Rev. Arthur C. Coxe called for a banning of the novel for the author's toleration of an "illicit relationship" and his siding with the main character. You can see a retelling of the story in the new film Easy A.
- The Bible: Even religious texts are the focus of would-be censors. The Bible was challenged in 1993 as “obscene and pornographic” at the Noel Wien Library in Fairbanks, AK. The Bible is, in fact, one of the most censored books in history.
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