This week is the week that the American Library Association marks Banned Book Week. It is a week to focus on many of the books that at one time in the history of this country have been censored or outright banned and even burned in the public square. We have all heard the story about how then Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin approached the public librarian in that town and asked her about the process of removing certain books from the shelves. Mrs. Palin subsequently fired the librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, who was later reinstated after a public outcry over Palin's actions. See Palin pressured Wasilla librarian TOWN MAYOR: She wanted to know if books would be pulled.
Also see ABC Investigates Sarah Palin's Book Censorship:
Book banning is nothing new, but the stalwart defense against censorship has often been taken up by librarians who by their very profession, understand the value of an informed citizenry in a robust democracy. This morning on NPR they presented information about the short-term successful banning of The Grapes of Wrath - a book that the proponent of its banning had apparently never read. See 'Grapes Of Wrath' And The Politics of Book Burning
Here is a list of books that have been subject to bans or community controversy (from the ALA web site):
The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2006” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:
“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;
“Gossip Girls” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;
“Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;
“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
“Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;
“Athletic Shorts” by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group; and
“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.
Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.
Here is a link to the background of the situation in Kerns Country in Califormia that instigated the banning of "The Grapes of Wrath."
Here's a great review of a book that chronicles the sage of the banning of "The Grapes of Wrath:"
Forbidden Fruit: The Banning of The Grapes of Wrath in the Kern County Free Library
Thank god for the steadfastness of librarians across the country who hold the line against censorship and book banning.