Banned Books Week Highlight Part 2   Leave a comment

I promised a second highlight of Banned Books Week, and, though I’m a little late, here it is!

ALA asked readers to vote for the Top Ten Most Far-fetched Reasons to Challenge a Book.

Sarah Fischer, a staff writer for the University of Illinois’ Daily Illini wrote an editorial briefly discussing censorship and her love of banned books.

Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, recorded a two-part video message encouraging parents to read and discuss challenged and banned books with their children.

The Australian Broadcasting Company covered a news story about schools in Israel refusing to use censored textbooks. Not strictly BBW-related, but still an occurrence of censorship that deserves attention.

In early September, Laura Whitwell of the UK paper, Daily Mail, wrote an interesting article about books that have been challenged in Texas schools. Now, I want to find a copy of The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln to read!

Finally, you can take ALA’s Banned Book Week Quiz. Good luck!


Posted October 6, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in intellectual freedom

Banned Books Week Is Here!   3 comments

According to the American Library Association website:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Unfortunately, I’ve haven’t been able to participate in any BBW activities this week aside from reading a book about Genghis Khan’s daughters. Written by highly respected scholar Jack WeatherfordThe Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire is the first book dedicated to the female descendants of the founder of the Mongolian Empire. The book itself has never been challenged, but I argue that it is appropriate for BBW because the records of the deeds of the extraordinarily powerful daughters, granddaughters, and daughters-in-law of Genghis Kahn were destroyed in an attempt to erase their memory from history. Most of the information that modern scholars have about these women comes from the records and observations of foreigners who visited the Mongol courts or were conquered by the Mongols. These women were silenced for centuries but, thanks to Dr. Weatherford’s research, their stories are surfacing again. If you enjoy Asian history, Mongolian culture, women’s history, or underdog stories, I recommend this.

How have other people and organizations been celebrating Banned Books Week? We are all busy people so I’ve limited myself to a small selection of


ALA's BBW poster

highlights from the week so far.

A friend of a colleague wrote an excellent blog entry reminding us why we need BBW.

Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post condemning censorship.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District in Missouri posted brief interviews with authors whose works have been challenged and/or banned. (The link leads to a PDF.) Authors interviewed are Jane Yolen, Beth Hammett, Leslea Newman, David Harrison, Sandy Asher, Jan Cheripko, and Patricia Hermes.

Posted September 28, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in intellectual freedom

The Woman Behind Little Women – Recommendation   Leave a comment

I am a fan of biographies and I am a fan of Louisa May Alcott. To that end, I highly recommend Harriet Reisen’s biography of a woman widely considered to be one of the very best American authors.

For biographical reasons, I can recommend this book. Reisen’s book is well-researched and she makes use of never-before-published resources. She provides insightful analysis of the Alcott family dynamics, especially the strained relationship between flawed and passionate second daughter, Louisa, and her idealistic father, Bronson Alcott, a respected pillar of the Transcendentalist movement of the nineteenth century.

For personal reasons, I can recommend this biography. I found myself genuinely relating to Miss Alcott. In her mid and late twenties, Louisa chose to move away from her parents (though she had the option to live with them indefinitely), take cramped quarters in a different town, and work three jobs (teaching, sewing, and freelance writing). She worked hard and maintained her confidence that one day she would achieve financial independence and would find work that she loved. Her situation mirrors my own. I, too, am in my mid-twenties, living on my own and working three jobs while trying to find that one full-time job that will make me happy.

My slightly dinged up copy of Miss Alcott's most sensational work.

For literary reasons I can recommend this book. Most readers know L.M. Alcott as the author of Little Women. She was, in fact, an extraordinarily prolific author of short stories, poetry, essays, children’s fiction, and adult fiction. She published many morbid and sensational stories under pseudonyms. My favorite Alcott novel, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, was considered too scandalous to print during the 1800s. It was published posthumously more than century after she wrote it.

If you are interested in biographies, Louisa M. Alcott, the Transcendentalist movement, nineteenth-century American life, or a rags-to-riches story, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women is for you. Recommended for high school readers and up.

Posted August 25, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in review

Support Three Good Causes at Once with Out of Print Clothing   Leave a comment

1) Donate books to African communities in need
2) Raise awareness of great literature that has been challenged and/or banned at some point
3) Look fabulous while feeling comfortable!

A colleague brought Out of Print Clothing to my attention recently. Each shirt features an out-of-print cover from a classic title. For every shirt they sell, they donate a book to their partner organization, Books for Africa. And, according to their website, “Each shirt is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book.” So you can be literary, charitable, fashionable, and comfortable all at once!

Out of Print's tribute to The Great Gatsby. I owned a copy with this cover once. The photo is from their website. Click on the image to visit the product page.

Posted August 11, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in Uncategorized

In memoriam of burned books   Leave a comment

A touching comic from Of course, book burnings aren’t always exclusively attacks on occult books by the Christian right, but the sentiment is still appreciable. Click on the image to go to the site and see the image full-size.

Click the comic to see full-size



Posted July 19, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in intellectual freedom

In defense of YA Lit.   1 comment

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie (Photo by Chase Jarvis)

In June Sherman Alexie published an excellent editorial defending violent, sexual, or otherwise dark young adult literature.

The modern concept of childhood as a wholly innocent, breezy, and completely care-free period without struggle is very recent. Children live in the same world as adults and often understand more than adults give them credit for. Giving them nothing but bland, Utopian children’s literature does not help them to cope with the harsh realities that young adults often face.

Additionally, as Alexie points out, innocence is often lost far earlier than many adults think. I know a great many friends who have been abused in some way or another. In some cases, literature helped them to overcome their traumas. To ban a young adult book, or any book, is to do readers a disservice. After all, “Every book its reader, and every reader his/her book.”

*Photo is from Alexie’s website and was taken by Chase Jarvis.

Posted July 12, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in intellectual freedom

A recommendation for fantasy fans – Dragons, Princesses, and Cherries Jubilee!   4 comments

If you are looking for an offbeat, fun fantasy, I have the book for you. Though aimed at young adults, Patricia C. Wrede’s novel Dealing with Dragons is a delight for all ages. In it, young Princess Cimorene runs away from an arranged betrothal and gets a job…working for a dragon! Cimorene is an unconventional princess in every way; she is tall, stubborn, outspoken, and likes to cook and organize. (She even organizes her dragon employer’s library!) When the dragons find themselves in peril from their wizard enemies, it is up to Cimorene to take the lead and save the day.

Fans of Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Peter S. Beagle will laugh out loud at Dealing with Dragons and its three additional adventures that make up The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

For those of you in the Champaign-Urbana area, the Urbana Free Library, the Champaign Public Library, and the University of Illinois have all of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Parkland has Dealing with Dragons but not the entire set.

For more information on Ms. Wrede, you can visit her official website!

My battered copy of _Dealing with Dragons_.

Posted July 6, 2011 by Alicia Schofield in review