Tulare County Library celebrates banned books

(StockPhotoPro on Adobe Stock)

Banned book week takes place in Tulare County Library from Oct. 1 to the 7th to highlight banned books and the significance of their impacts

TULARE COUNTY – Intellectual censorship could be the spookiest reality this October as Tulare County Library highlights banned books.

Tulare County Library will have their annual celebration of Banned Books Week on Oct. 1-7, shining a light on book bans and challenges happening in communities, schools and public libraries. Alongside libraries, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers, the county library invites everyone to make use of their First Amendment right to read.

To commemorate Banned Book Week, the Tulare County Library will have displays up for the whole duration of the week, which will highlight various banned books.

“The American Library Association wants to foster discussion about challenged and banned books,” Tulare County Librarian Jonathan Waltmire said. “If we are a nation full of different ideas and different thoughts, and if you are censoring materials, then you’re stifling someone’s expression or their viewpoints.”

Waltmire explained books that someone wouldn’t expect would be banned have been for a variety of reasons that range anywhere from very concerning to completely mundane activities. The library is excited to highlight these books and explain their background to visitors during banned book week.

“We expect to see an uptick of people who are going to come in and say ‘I didn’t know that the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been challenged before,’ and it has,” Waltmire said. “So we want people to realize that books have been challenged for a variety of reasons.”

Banned book week approaches in Tulare County at the same time that Visalia Unified School District is going through the process of reviewing challenged books for its high schools. As of report, there are 13 challenged books under review, of which VUSD has put together challenged book committees in order to allow them to evaluate whether or not they should be available to students.

One of the books that was brought to attention recently is “This One Summer,” a book about two young girls finding themselves and their sexuality in the face of conflict. It is not confirmed why the book was challenged by community members; however, there are a variety of topics in the book that some could consider concerning, such as underage drinking, smoking, slut shaming and teen pregnancy.

The American Library Association (ALA) has compiled their own list of 13 to highlight the most challenged books in the United States. One of these books, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jess Andrews, is also on VUSD’s challenged books list along with “The Black Flamingo” by Dean Atta.

Out of the 1,269 books reported to ALA challenged or banned nationwide in 2022, the top 13 highlighted in particular include: “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “Flamer” by Mike Curato, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Steven Chbosky, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez, “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas, “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins, and “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson.

All of these books are critically acclaimed and widely read titles. The number of challenged books continues to rise since 2021, which recorded just 729 book challenges, according to the county library.

The American Library Association and Office of Intellectual Freedom started Banned Books Week to foster discussion about challenged and banned books. A challenge is an attempt to censor, remove, or restrict materials based on the objections of a person or group, while a ban is the removal or censorship of an item.

With other libraries and book communities in the United States, the Tulare County Library celebrates Banned Books Week by providing information and book displays including current and historical bans and challenges. The library invites residents to read or discover a banned or challenged book and learn more.

The library recognizes that reading is one of man’s greatest freedoms and only an individual or a parent or guardian of a child should decide the choice of books to read. Banned Books Week launched in 1982 after the Supreme Court case Island Trees School District v. Pico ruled that schools could not ban books solely because of their content.

Tulare County Library serves all the residents of Tulare County with locations in 17 communities, five book machines, an adult and family literacy center, Pop Up Tulare County outreach and bookmobile, and online at tularecountylibrary.org.  Readers can also follow the library on its social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Start typing and press Enter to search