Don't let anyone tell you what you can and cannot read

Thursday , April 13, 2017 - 4:30 AM2 comments

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

It’s 2017, and people are still trying to censor books in America.

Of course they are.

Because as long as America remains a place where people can still read, think and believe according to conscience, others will try to tell them what they cannot read, cannot think and cannot believe.

  • RELATED: “Cosby books on library list for 'most challenged' works”

As part of National Library Week, which continues through Saturday, April 15, the American Library Association released its list of the top 10 most challenged books of 2016.

“This One Summer,” a young adult graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, came in at No. 1 — its first appearance on the list.

Libraries restricted, relocated and banned the book because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, profanity, sexually explicit content and mature themes.

That puts it in good company. All top five books on the list faced challenges for LGBT characters and sexuality.

Last year’s Literary Enemy No. 1, John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” slipped five spots in 2016. Perhaps that’s because unlike the top five books, “Alaska” offended critics only because of its sexuality and profanity.

“Challenges continue to target LGBT material, and there is a rise in ‘sexually explicit’ as a challenge category,” the ALA reports.

Sadly, however, this year’s list represents something of a breakthrough — for the first time, critics tried to ban books solely because of their author.

Mark Twain?

No.

Judy Blume?

Try again.

J.K. Rowling?

Not even close.

It’s Bill Cosby, whose “Little Bill” series finished No. 9. Readers tried to ban the books because of sexual assault allegations against the comedian.

Maybe you despise Bill Cosby. Or J.K. Rowling. Or Judy Blume, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Chuck Palahniuk or any number of authors.

That’s your choice. But others may find value in their books, and the First Amendment guarantees Americans the freedom to read whatever they wish, without interference from you, the school board, politicians, churches or any other self-appointed censors.

If you don’t want your children reading “This One Summer,” by all means, tell them why. Your family is your responsibility.

The rest of us will take it from there.

We don’t need your help to decide what we’ll think, read or believe.

THE TOP 10

Here is the American Library Association’s 10 most challenged books of 2016:

1. “This One Summer,” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.

2. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

3. “George,” written by Alex Gino.

4. “I Am Jazz,” written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas.

5. “Two Boys Kissing,” written by David Levithan.

6. “Looking for Alaska,” written by John Green.

7. “Big Hard Sex Criminals,” written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky.

8. “Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread,” written by Chuck Palahniuk.

9. “Little Bill,” series written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood.

10. “Eleanor & Park,” written by Rainbow Rowell.

 

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