Banned Books Week: CBLDF Defends Dozens of Books in 2012-13

September 25, 2013
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This week alone, CBLDF signed three letters defending banned books and the authors of challenged books. Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read, but a look back at all of the books we helped protect since last year’s Banned Books Week is an object lesson in why we still need to defend the right to read!

Let’s take a look at some of the books CBLDF has defended in the last year…

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Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Curtiss Sittenfeld’s Prep

In late September 2012, CBLDF lent its support to two novels being challenged as “pornographic” by individuals in the East Penn School District in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The letter, written by CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project, defends Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Curtiss Sittenfeld’s Prep, both of which appear on the school’s summer reading list. Both books have been challenged in the school district before, and they have successfully stood up to those challenges. Shortly after the letter was sent, the books earned a reprieve based on a technicality. More…

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Stephen King’s Different Seasons

Stephen King’s collection of novellas, Different Seasons, was challenged in the Rocklin, California, Unified School District after a parent complained about a graphic rape scene in “Apt Pupil.” In October 2012, CBLDF joined the Kids Right to Read Project to defend the novel in a letter addressed to the school district. Most of the stories in the collection — “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body,” and the challenged story “Apt Pupil” — are considered some of King’s best works and all three novellas have been made into critically-acclaimed major motion pictures (the second novella was the source material for Stand By Me). The book is shelved in the library and is not part of compulsory reading lists in the district, and the district ultimately kept the book on shelvesMore…

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Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle

In November 2012, CBLDF joined the Kids Right to Read Project and a coalition of free expression advocacy organizations to write a letter to the Guilford School District in Greensboro, North Carolina, in defense of several books taught in the district’s college-level English courses. A group of parents in the community tried to remove several titles from classrooms, claiming that the books “denigrate Christianity.” The titles in this vocal minority’s cross hairs include The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian tale about women trying to overcome social and sexual subjugation, and Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut’s acclaimed satirical lampooning of the arms race. The parents did not file a formal complaint about the book, instead opting to put pressure directly on members of the school board and circulating a petition that calls for the revision of the school’s curriculum. More…

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Wes Moore’s The Other Wes Moore & Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The season of book challenges and bans continued for CBLDF in December 2012 when the Kids’ Right to Read Project and allied groups issued a letter in defense of two books targeted for removal from 9th and 10th grade classrooms in Springfield, Massachusetts. The books, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and frequently-challenged The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, were to be reviewed by the Student and Parent Concerns Subcommittee of the Springfield Public School District. Details on this particular challenge were scarce, but it’s certainly nothing new for Absolutely True Diary author Alexie. Moore, on the other hand, is a new initiate to the challenged-books club and sent his own letter to the Springfield school committee in defense of his memoir. More…

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David Pelzer’s A Child Called “It” & Amy Ignatow’s The Popularity Papers

In February, CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project sent a letter to the Prosser School District outside Yakima, Washington, in defense of A Child Called “It” and The Popularity Papers. Both books had been challenged as inappropriate by a high school social studies teacher in the district. The Prosser school district’s Materials Committee ultimately recommended that both books remain available to students. More…

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Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis

In April, Chicago Public Schools tried to remove Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic novel Persepolis from classrooms and libraries throughout the district. Protest of the move immediately followed, and CBLDF joined a coalition of free speech advocates, students, teachers, parents, and more to defend the book. CPS ultimately rescinded the order, but the book was deemed unsuited for use in Grade 7 classrooms. CBLDF followed the case extensively, and coverage can be found here:

A Librarian Considers Persepolis

CBLDF Raises New Defense of Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi Wants to Know What CPS Fears About Persepolis

Students, Teachers, Iranian-born Artist React to PERSEPOLIS Ban

Chip Kidd Takes Action to FREE PERSEPOLIS

IRONY: Lane Tech Had Banned Book Club Before PERSEPOLIS Ban

CPS Responds to PERSEPOLIS Defenders

Missing the Point on PERSEPOLIS

WTTW’s Chicago Tonight on PERSEPOLIS Ban

Furor Continues Over PERSEPOLIS Removal

CBLDF Rises To Defense of Persepolis

UPDATED: Persepolis Reportedly Banned In Chicago School

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Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl

In May, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joined the Kids Right to Read Project and several other free speech organizations in signing a letter in defense of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. After her 7th grade daughter decided to do a project on the book, parent Gail Horalek requested a review of the book in the Northville Public School District. Horalek claimed that the book was inappropriate for students, taking exception in particular to a passage in the book in which Frank describes the discovery of her own body. In a victory for free speech, the Michigan school district to which the letter was addressed elected to keep the book in middle school classrooms. More…

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Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

June saw a victory for free speech when the Glen Ellyn school board lifted their ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The victory was hard won by a grass roots movement that included letters from CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project, a letter-writing campaign led by the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the vocal opposition of students, teachers, parents, and even acclaimed author Judy Blume. CBLDF ran several articles on the story:

Kids Right to Read Project Responds to Lift of Glen Ellyn Ban

Illinois School District Lifts Ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Help Defend The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Pulled from Illinois Junior High School

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, & Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

This week may be Banned Books Week, but last week was all about banning books, from the ban of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in North Carolina, to a challenge against Eleanor & Park that led to the cancellation of a talk by author Rainbow Rowell, to the cancellation of a talk by author Meg Medina over the title of her anti-bullying novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. CBLDF has signed letters of support in each of these cases, joining CBLDF-sponsored Kids’ Right to Read Project to decry censorship around the nation. More…