viernes, 25 de septiembre de 2009

Banned Books Week: Freedom to Read in the USA

During the last week of September every year, libraries and bookshops in the USA celebrate the Banned Books Week to draw attention towards the problem of censorship: there are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year. Do you know the difference between banned and challenged books?: when a book is banned, you cannot have it in a library, bookshop or in the school system; a book is challenged when there is an attempt to ban it.

Books are challenged for many reasons: because they are too sexual, or violent, or show a positive image of homosexuals, or are offensive from the point of view of religion or race...But I´m sure you know (and have read) some of the books that have been challenged some time or other; for example, J.K. Rowling´s Harry Potter books, all of them (claiming they promote witchcraft- which reminds me of an article, "Le hacen a uno drogadicto", written by Juan José Millás and published in El País Semanal Nº1721, page 21), Philip Pullman´s The Golden Compass (because it is anti-God, anti-Catholic and anti-religion), Khaled Hosseini´s The Kite Runner (because of its vulgar language and because a rape is described in detail), Mark Twain´s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (because of its racial epithets)...Click here if you want to read the list of the most challenged books.

Watch this video to learn about this special week: you can play it to see how much you understand (it shouldn´t be too difficult). Once you´ve listened to it a couple of times you can check the text below it to make sure you understood it correctly.

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. This year, Banned Books Week is celebrated from September 26 to October 3. 2009 marks the 28th anniversary of Banned Books Week. More than a thousand books have been challenged since Banned Books Week began. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The easiest way is to visit a participating library or bookstore. Check for special events around your community during Banned Books Week. Come join the fight and celebrate your freedom to read.

Amnesty International collaborates with the events this week to defend the people who are persecuted because of what they read or write.

And here´s a video which tries to ridicule the way some people challenge books:

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