By Rose Balser
During the last week of September, Shenandoah University celebrated Banned Books Week. In 1982, the event was launched by the American Library Association due to a rise in the number of challenged and banned books. Since then, the nationally observed event is dedicated to promoting challenged literature and the freedom to read.
Shenandoah celebrates this event to encourage people to read the books and call attention to the titles.
“We shouldn’t hinder someone’s ability to equal access of information,” said Christine Forbes, circulation supervisor at Shenandoah.
A book can be challenged for various reasons, and should one be successfully banned, it may be removed from its respective library, bookstore, or school reading list. Some common reasons for challenging these books include religious viewpoints, unfit for target age group, and offensive language, among many others.
According to the American Library Association, a breakdown of 2019 literature censorship revealed that challenges were initiated by patrons of bookstores or public libraries (45%), parents (18%), school board and administration (13%), political and religious groups (12%), librarians and teachers (8%), elected officials (3%), and students (1%). To protect the freedom to access information, the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case ruled that school officials do not have the power to remove books from their libraries.
“In a free society we need to be exposed to different points of view,” said Mary Anton, branch manager for the Bowman Library in Stephens City.
Titles that have been added to the list of banned and challenged books for various reasons include The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Shenandoah highlighted many of these titles in their banned books week event, and offer many for checkout. For more information on this topic, visit https://www.ala.org/.