Banned Books Week celebrates freedom to read

By Samantha Bartholomew

Did you know that more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982?

From Sept. 24 to Sept. 30, Banned Books Week was celebrated across the nation to raise awareness about, as well as celebrate, the freedom and right to read. The event was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating that highlights the value of free and open access to information.

Since launching the event in 1982, over 37 books have been either banned or challenged in Riverside, California.

Here are 5 cases of books that have been banned or challenged in Riverside:

“The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway was banned from schools in Riverside in 1960 for its language, use of profanity and central focus on sex. As of 2017, the classic is number 18 on the American Library Association’s banned book list.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green was banned from middle schools in the Riverside Unified School District in Sept. 2014 after parents complained about the subject matter of teenagers dying of cancer, use of crude language and sexual content. The ban was lifted in Dec. 2014 after the school board decided that it was unconstitutional to go through with the ban.

Webster’s Dictionary was banned from a Riverside elementary school for a few days in Jan. 2010 after parents complained about the dictionary’s entries detailing references to various types of oral sex.

“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier was banned from RUSD schools in 1996 after being deemed as inappropriate for seventh and eighth graders to read due to its language, portrayal of bullying and some character’s sexual ponderings.

“Rabbit is Rich” by John Updike was banned from Riverside schools in 2014. The banning occurred after parents in that district protested Updike’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book as pornographic.

Half the fun of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that the books have  and will continue to remain available.