Book Banning Is Every American’s Problem

By Neal Comment

We’d been meaning to say something about the new Google Map on the Banned Books Week website, documenting attempts to censor books across America, for a while now. Seeing all those blue tabs spread out over the lower 48 was a stark reminder that censorship isn’t a “red state/blue state” issue, but one which any of us might face in our communities. Unless our eyes are failing us, only five states have managed to get through the last two-and-a-half years without a single case of a challenged book being reported to the American Library Association: South Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Mexico, and Delaware. (That doesn’t mean there weren’t any such incidents, though; the website notes that 70 to 80 percent of the book challenges in America go unreported beyond the immediate community.)

The map is really cool, by the way, so be sure to take a look: Clicking on each blue tab gives you a summary of the specific challenge raised.

banned-books-readout.jpgSo we wanted to give you an early heads-up about the return of Banned Books Week next month, a “Readout” in Chicago’s Bughouse Square on Saturday, September 26, which will include six of the authors responsible for titles on the ten most challenged books of 2008, from And Tango Makes Three and Uncle Bobby’s Wedding to the Gossip Girls series. As we wrote a few years back, “Banned Books Week isn’t about patting ourselves on the back for refuting the complaints of previous generations over Huckleberry Finn,” but about remaining vigilant to the threats to our intellectual freedom that persist today.