It’s Banned Books Week

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We’re smack in the middle of Banned Books Week, an event sponsored by the American Library Assn., the American Publishers Assn. and others. This year, they’ve launched an interactive map that shows which books were officially banned or challenged, and where, in 2008.

Southern California seems to be pretty tolerant when it comes to literature. The only challenge was at a private school in Yorba Linda, where Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Prep” was removed from an accelerated reading program after a parent complained about sexual content. There was, admittedly, sexual content in “Prep” -- often coupled with a dose of adolescent self-loathing -- but that’s the kind of thing anybody can see by turning on the TV to watch “Gossip Girl,” right?


Speaking of “Gossip Girl,” the series of novels on which the TV show is based came in as the seventh most frequently challenged book/s of 2008. The top 10 includes the “Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz and “Bless Me, Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya, both because of “occult/Satanism.” Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy was objected to for its political and religious viewpoint. And “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” and the picture book about same-sex penguin parents in the Central Park Zoo, “And Tango Makes Three,” were found objectionable because of homosexuality.

The objections seem silly, if not outrageous -- people are still upset about the gay penguins? Really? But the bannings and challenges haven’t caused much of an outcry in California. Only two events in the state are listed on the official Banned Books Week website, and neither is in L.A. County. Maybe that’s because we don’t traffic much in book banning around here.

But if you’ve got an event to bring attention to Banned Books Week, be sure to let us know.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image credit: Banned Books Week / American Library Assn.

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