Banned books coming soon

Perhaps the greatest misconception regarding challenges to ban books in the U.S. is that only right wingers are behind book bans-not true. Left-wingers, have targeted political pamplets and books for banning, too.

Book challenges occur in every state. People challenge books that they say are either too sexual, too violent or not politically correct. "They may object to profanity, slang, portrayals of ethnic, religious and political stereotypes or positive portrayals of homosexuals," according to the ALA.

According to a recent ALA report on book challenges, 460 challenges were reported to the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2009.

In the U.S., Clark noted, children's books probably get the most attention when it comes to content. Books about witches, demons, vampires-such as "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" books-and other creatures of myth and legend are often on parent's minds.

But it may not take a village when it comes to policing community book standards-

"Times have changed. Today, it's really up to parents to monitor what their children are reading," Clark noted. "And one parent, or one group, can't be the judge of what the children of other parents should be reading."

Vermont public libraries haven't had much trouble with banned books, according to Clark. Vermonters appear to be more tolerant of diverse opinions than elsewhere.

Most Vermont libraries strive to keep the shelves stocked with books that are of value to the community-from reference to fiction titles-Clark stressed. But sometimes, works of fiction, even non-fiction, will be offensive to someone.

The freedom to read requires eternal vigilence and engaged readers, librarians, booksellers and elected officials. Thankfully, Vermont is blessed with many citizens who care deeply about the printed word and their right to it.

Check It Out: For an online list of banned and challenged books in the U.S. see: www.ala.org and www.adlerbooks.com/banned.html.

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