The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a proud sponsor of Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read! The 2014 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 21 – September 27. This year, Banned Books Week will celebrate graphic novels!
Every year people try to take away readers’ power to decide what books are right for themselves or their children to read by bringing challenges to remove books from libraries. Comic books, graphic novels, and manga are frequently challenged and even banned.
WHY COMICS ARE BANNED
Book banning is nothing new. Books are frequently banned for containing “adult content,” “language,” “sex/nudity,” or not being “age appropriate.” Comics are uniquely vulnerable to challenges because the medium thrives on the power of static images, and because there is a lingering stigma that comics are low-value speech. Some challenges are brought against comics because a single page or panel can be taken out of context, while others come under attack because of the mistaken notion that all comics are for children. Learn more about why comics are banned here.
WHAT COMICS ARE BANNED
Comics are one of the most commonly attacked types of books, with challenges and bans happening every year. In the last few years, attempts to ban critically acclaimed graphic novels Persepolis and Barefoot Gen made international headlines. Other comics attacked in recent years include all-ages classics like Bone by Jeff Smith, which made ALA’s list of the ten most challenged books in 2013, as well as acclaimed books for adult readers like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. Learn more about what comics have been banned or challenged here.
WHAT CBLDF DOES TO HELP
The CBLDF assists librarians by providing access to resources and writing letters of support in cases where comics are challenged. In the past year the CBLDF has participated in helping several challenges and stands ready to address new ones when they occur. CBLDF is also an active sponsor of Banned Books Week and the Kids Right To Read Project, initiatives that create tools and perform activities that advance the freedom to read.
For an introduction to banned books and Banned Books Week, visit CBLDF’s FAQ: Banned Books Week 101.
The CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook is a free resource that gives you the scoop about what comics are banned, how to report and fight censorship, and how to make a celebration of Banned Books Week in your community! CBLDF’s Banned Books Week Handbook is an essential tool to assist librarians, educators, and retailers in planning their Banned Books Week celebrations, while also being a vital reference to help readers everywhere fight censorship. View or download a copy here.
Given their visual nature, comics are easy targets for would-be censors. CBLDF’s Discussion Guides are tools that can be used to lead conversations about challenged graphic novels and to help allay misconceptions about comics. Click through to download the guides.
Working With Libraries! provides comics creators with a valuable insider’s perspective on the library world and the systems librarians have to navigate to bring comics to their patrons. The handbook details the basics of public, school, and academic libraries, explains the collection development process, and offers suggestions for ways creators can collaborate with libraries in developing events and programs. View it here.