Banned Books Week: Here We Go Again

Chalk up two more bans for the 2014-15 list. And, as explained on Monday, they're for the usual reasons. One parent complained to the Riverside Unified School District in California about her child checking out The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Of all the things she could choose to complain about, she centered on the novel's inclusion of sexual content and "crude language" as the reason she believed the book should not be available to any student.

The only slight upside to this story is that, for once, a school actually followed its policies to review the content in a challenged book. The bad news is that the panel decided 6-1 in favor of removing all copies of the book from the middle school, not ordering any more copies, and refusing donations of the book.

The book was only added to the library at the middle school because students requested it at the end of the school year. The marketing blitz for the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars actually encouraged some children to read the book, which is a great thing. The school obliged, another great thing. And one parent resulted in no middle school student being able to check out a YA novel discussing death from the perspective of young people. It's absurd.

But wait, there's more. This was a one-two punch of California schools being challenged by parents. In the Cucomunga school district the day before, one parent got the entire middle school library shut down. Why? She found a copy of John Updike's novel Rabbit is Rich.

And what was wrong with Rabbit is Rich? Inappropriate sexual content for the age group. That school shut down the library and audited the books present to remove any objectionable material before reopening.

This is why we need Banned Books Week. Do you know how I found out about the Riverside story? A news aggregate took advantage of Banned Books Week to bring attention to a current censorship issue happening during Banned Books Week. Without Banned Books Week, this would just be local news. With Banned Books Week, we gain national exposure for the continuing issue of censorship spurred by overprotective parents choosing to fight against books instead of fighting for education.

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