Banned Books Week 2018

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It’s Banned Books Week! BBW is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The most challenged books of 2017 can be found on ALA’s website.

Though there are no Ohio-related books this year, there have been several included many times in the past. Some of them may surprise you!

Photo credit: Guillermo Arias/AP

Among the most frequently banned or challenged books in America are titles by celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, who was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio. Her novels Beloved, Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eye are multi-award winning stories about people of color; in particular, women of color. The American Library Association has pointed out the overwhelming tendency to ban books by writers of color; in 2016, the spotlight week was specifically shone on these writers in an attempt to “celebrate literature written by diverse writers that have been banned or challenged, as well as explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out in the first place.”

Morrison’s books are frequently singled out for sexual content and violence without considering the context. The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is an unflinching look at racism and domestic violence. Encouraging students to read this book, and other controversial literature, encourages them to start a dialogue about subjects which are too often ignored. In this era of movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo and the current political climate, The Bluest Eye is just one book that may foster students’ critical thinking skills. Morrison herself, when she accepted her Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, spoke of “Laureates yet to come,” those readers who confront hard-to-tell stories head on, and may grow up to change the world, and tell their own world-changing stories.

“Their voices bespeak civilizations gone and yet to be; the precipice from which their imaginations gaze will rivet us; they do not blink nor turn away.”

 

Another controversial Ohio author is Dav Pilkey, whose Captain Underpants books are beloved by millions of kids worldwide. He created this video in 2014 to express his feelings on banned books.

Captain Underpants has been banned frequently from schools, even reaching the #1 spot on ALA’s annual banned books list in 2012. Pilkey himself pointed out that his books “contain no sex, no profanity, no nudity, no drugs, and no graphic violence (at least nothing you wouldn’t see in a 1950’s Superman comic book).” So why are they banned so often? Pilkey thinks it’s a snap judgment based on the cover and title, and the penchant towards directing children to “real literature” rather than comics, despite the recognition in recent years of graphic novels as award-winning books of art and literature.

“My goal with Captain Underpants is to make kids laugh and to give children (and especially reluctant readers) a positive experience with reading at a crucial time in their development (ages 7 to 10). Children in this age group who hate to read are in great danger of becoming functionally illiterate adults. So when a child connects to a book — even if it’s a book that we as adults might not care for — it’s a BIG DEAL!”

Dav Pilkey

 

 

Photo credit: Scholastic

Coming in at #94 on the list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2009 was the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. Stine grew up in Bexley, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. He began his career by writing humor books for children and created the humor magazine Bananas. Stine wrote his first horror novel for young people in 1986. He went on to create the Fear Street series in 1989 and Goosebumps in 1992. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and the Goosebumps series has been translated into 32 languages. Like Captain Underpants, it also inspired a film, with a sequel coming this October. Stine created an endowment fund for creative writing in his hometown of Bexley, received the Ohioana Career Award in 1999, and was a featured author at the 2009 Ohioana Book Festival.

Goosebumps has been banned because parents feel they are too frightening, or that they contain “satanic” or “occult” themes. With titles like It Came From Beneath the Sink! and Go Eat Worms! it seems odd that these complaints are taken seriously. Indeed, Stine says that he considers the banning of his books to be a point of pride.

“It is a badge of honor to have people try to ban your books from schools and school libraries, only because it means your books have become popular and are being noticed. Unpopular books seldom get banned. I’ve never noticed any kind of sales decrease because of these censorship campaigns. Usually they prove to be good publicity.”

 

Ultimately, Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read. The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. For more information on Banned Books Week, previous lists of banned/challenged books, and other ways you can celebrate the freedom to read, visit the Banned Books Week website.

Fall Into Literature

Although autumn doesn’t officially start until September 22nd, it certainly already feels as if the seasons have changed. The chilly, rainy weather of this past week might bring to mind thoughts of changing leaves, pumpkin pie and shorter days. Here at Ohioana, it also reminds us of the myriad of literary events that happen around the state during the autumn. Whether you’re looking to hear your favorite author speak about their work, get a book signed, or buy something new to read, there should be something to satisfy you in the coming months. Check out our list below for some literary events around Ohio this fall that you shouldn’t miss.

 

Cleveland Public Poetry: Featuring Maxwell Shell

When: September 15th, 12:00pm-1:00pm

Where: Literature Department, Main Library, 325 Superior Ave., 2nd FL

What: “Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Public Library invite you to celebrate the changing of the season amidst the readings of written and spoken-word poetry, with our special guest reader poet MaxWell Shell. After a brief Q&A, the mic will open for others to read an original or favorite work. Free refreshments and snacks provided. Door prizes, too!”

Admission: Free

https://ohiocenterforthebook.org/2018/08/06/cleveland-public-poetry-2018-fall-schedule/

 

Photo credit: Jeff Sabo

Tigerland by Wil Haygood book events

An Evening With Wil Haygood at East High School

When: September 20th, 7:00pm

Where: Columbus East High School,

East High School

1500 East Broad Street

Columbus , OH 43229

What: “In partnership with Columbus City Schools, Gramercy Books welcomes award-winning author and journalist, Wil Haygood, to Columbus East High School for his national book tour launch of Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of HealingHaygood will share the story of Columbus’ own East High School Tigers, who won baseball and basketball state championships in the midst of the racial turbulence and segregation of the late 1960s, and how they inspired a community.”

Admission: Free, but tickets must be reserved through Eventbrite

https://www.gramercybooksbexley.com/event/gramercy-salon2424-evening-wil-haygood-east-high-school

 

An Afternoon With Wil Haygood

When: September 23rd, 3:00pm

Where: Schottenstein Theatre at Bexley High School

326 South Cassingham Road

Bexley , OH 43229

What: “Join us in welcoming Columbus’ own, Wil Haygood, for a special afternoon featuring his new book, Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Columbus, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year. This program, to include an author talk, reading and book signing, is presented in partnership with Bexley Public Library.”

Admission: Free

https://www.gramercybooksbexley.com/event/gramercy-salon2424-afternoon-wil-haygood

 

Wil Haygood at University of Dayton

When: September 25th, 7:00pm-8:30pm

Where: Kennedy Union Ballroom, Kennedy Union 241

300 College Park

Dayton, Ohio 45469 – 0620

What: “Wil Haygood, Pulitzer-nominated journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Butler and Showdown will be discussing his new book, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of HealingTigerland tells the story of Columbus’ East High School Tigers, baseball and basketball teams from a poor, black, segregated high school that each won two Ohio state championships in the same year, uniting a racially-charged community in the aftermath of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Haygood is praised for connecting the civil rights movement and its iconic heroes with current events and enduring struggles. Above all, he brings the powerful perspective that this is the history of all Americans, shaping our national identity and common values. Haygood will be interviewed by his friend, Michael Carter, chief diversity officer at Sinclair Community College. Copies of Tigerland, in addition to other titles by Haygood, will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow the presentation.”

Admission: Free

https://udayton.edu/calendar/2018/09/ud-speaker-series-talk-by-wil-haygood.php

 

Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival

When: September 21st-22nd, 9:30am-9:00pm

Where: Kilcawley Center,

Youngstown State University,

1 University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44505

What: “This year’s festival will feature accomplished visiting writers, a book fair, a caucus for literary arts nonprofits, panels on many aspects of the literary arts, craft talks, workshops and readings in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.”

Admission: Check website for more information

https://lityoungstown.org/fall-literary-festival/

 

 

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

When: September 27th-30th, check website for times

Where: Varying locations, check website for more information

What: “CXC is a free, citywide arts festival hosted every year by people and places with a passion for cartoon arts. CXC connects the global family of cartoon storytellers, comic makers, and animators with the people who love and are inspired by their art. Together, they celebrate the stories that can only be told in visual media that are as diverse as the people who imagined them.”

Admission: Free

http://cartooncrossroadscolumbus.com/

 

Ohioana Awards

When: October 18th, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Where: Ohio Statehouse,

1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215

What: “The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 76 years has been honored. Tickets for the Awards go on sale on September 15th.”

Admission: $50 per ticket

http://www.ohioana.org/programs/ohioana-book-awards/

 

Books by the Banks

When: October 20th, 10am-4pm

Where: Duke Energy Convention Center,

525 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

What: “The premiere event is the Books by the Banks Cincinnati Regional Book Festival held annually in downtown Cincinnati. The day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.”

Admission: Free

http://booksbythebanks.org/

 

 

 

Pickerington Teen Book Fest

When: October 27th, 10am-5pm

Where: Pickerington Public Library,

201 Opportunity Way

Pickerington, OH 43147 United States

What: The Pickerington Teen Book Fest is free and open to the public! Add this event now to your calendars, and get ready to spend one incredible day with twelve incredible authors of teen and young adult fiction!

Admission: Free

https://pickeringtonlibrary.org/pickerington-teen-book-fest-2018/

 

Buckeye Book Fair

When: November 3rd, 9:30am-4pm

Where: Fisher Auditorium

1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, OH 44691

What: “Meet 100 Ohio authors & illustrators at the 31st annual Buckeye Book Fair.”

Admission: $2

http://www.buckeyebookfair.com/

 

Which of these literary events are you most looking forward to? Are there any we missed that you think we should know about? Leave us a comment, or send an email to ohioana@ohioana.org.