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Founder of Banned Books Week, Judith F. Krug, 1940-2009

Somehow, I missed this news when it originally came out. I certainly didn’t recognize the name, and this is definitely a name that more people should recognize.

Judith F. Krug died earlier this month of stomach cancer. According to articles in the New York Times and Wikipedia, she led campaigns by libraries to fight the banning of books, and later fought efforts to limit children’s access to the internet. She even fought to guarantee access to books that she herself found offensive. The NYT article talks about The Blue Book of the ultraconservative John Birch Society. She said:

“Library service in this country should be based on the concept of intellectual
freedom, of providing all pertinent information so a reader can make decisions
for himself.”

In 1982, she helped to found Banned Books Week – something I celebrate every year – bringing attention to all sorts of books that the narrow-minded have attempted to ban.

I admit that I was not familiar with Ms. Krug until I read the article in the NYT and I am sorry about that. This is a woman I would have liked to know – I certainly respect her policy positions and I am grateful that there are people like her who are willing to fight for free access to information.

Banned Books Quiz

I’ve been on the road this week (business travel is one of the more exhausting things I know – it should be an Olympic event!), so posts have been short. Still, I wanted to get in one last quick post for Banned Books Week. So here it is: a quiz that appeared earlier this week in The Guardian. Find out how much you know about banned books!
I got a 9 out of 12 – in the interests of full disclosure, I’ll let you know which ones I missed.
How did you do?

Tuesday Thingers!

From The Boston Bibliophile: For this week’s Tuesday Thingers, I’ve copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. I’ve highlighted the ones I’ve read. Highlight what you’ve read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.
1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna

20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

An interesting list. I get the feeling a lot of these are kids books – I’ve read some of the older ones, like A Light in the Attic and How to Eat Fried Worms – and those I’m less familiar with. I’m kind of surprised that so many Stephen King books are on the list, considering he’s far from the goriest or most disturbing horror writer. My real question, though: why does the What’s Happening to my Body book girls come in so much higher on the list than the book for boys?

Celebrate Banned Books!

The Book Lady’s Blog is celebrating Banned Books Week and I think it’s a fabulous idea! The very idea of banning a book makes me cringe. We’ve got a vice presidential candidate who has shown herself to be in favor of censoring books, our libraries and schools are under enormous pressure from people with particular points of view about what is suitable reading material – not just for children, but for adults, as well – and if we don’t pay attention we will lose our fREADom.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who believed that they were better off answering my questions about something than stifling my curiosity. There was very little on their shelves that I was not permitted to read and trips to the library often meant facing down the librarian and waiting for my parents’ okay to check out books that did not come from the Young Readers’ Room. I was a better student and a better reader for their indulgence and any call to censor a book would take some very strong arguments to convince me.

The first memory I have of a banned book was in a junior high school English class. We were reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and a number of parents objected to the final scene of the book. (I’ll put a reminder in the comments, in case you don’t remember your junior high English assignments clearly.) Suddenly, we were split into groups: those who were allowed to read the entire book, and those who were only allowed to read a redacted copy. Absolutely ridiculous, in my young opinion, so of course I set about telling all my classmates what they missed. Even then, I was budding little subversive!

I hope to find more ways to celebrate Banned Books Week next week, and I hope others join in as well.