Banned Books Week 2011 began Saturday and will last through Friday, October 1. The annual week-long observance celebrates the freedom to read any and all books without the interference of censorship. The American Library Association names “intellectual freedom” as the base of Banned Books Week, as it promotes the importance of controversial or unorthodox viewpoints.
Events in honor of BBW are happening across the country and online. The ALA is sponsoring a “Virtual Read-out,” where participants from all over the country can submit a video of themselves reading a challenged or banned book to the BBW YouTube channel.
If YouTube broadcasts aren’t your thing, you can always visit your local branch and pick up your favorite book on the frequently challenged/banned list. (There are some surprising popular choices that make the list, like the Harry Potter and Twilight series.) Here are just a few classics:
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Banned in many communities for its explicit and religious content, Slaughterhouse Five is just one of Vonnegut’s frequently controversial novels that makes the list.
- The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
Rushdie’s criticism of Islam led the religious leader of Iran to call a fatwa, or death sentence, against the author and the publishers of The Satanic Verses.
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The contentious novel was banned internationally due to themes of pedophilia and incest. And although reading the novel in American schools is still debated, it sold over 10,000 copies in the first three weeks of being sold in the U.S. in 1958.
Check out the rest of the classic banned books here.