Banned Books Week, typically celebrated towards the end of September, is a way for readers, libraries, schools and more to celebrate the freedom to read. Ever since its adoption in 1982, Banned Books Week draws attention to the issues of censorship and the freedom to seek and express ideas by highlighting the top challenged and banned books of the previous year. Compiled by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the top 10 books that were challenged or banned in 2021 are as follows:
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) made it known to many that 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper burns. But why does that matter now? As libraries across the country face legal action and pressure from parents and representatives to remove books from the shelves, it is important to acknowledge the history of book banning. The removal and destruction of literary material that is labeled as “offensive, heretical, or inappropriate” is not a new thought and has been around for millenia. Previously, texts were burned or confiscated by rulers afraid of the past, the Church attempting to repress ‘heretical’ ways of thinking, governments determined to remove anti-party propaganda, or conquering parties wishing to wipe out the cultural and traditions of those they oppress.
One of the earliest instances recorded was the destruction of cultural and education material in 213 B.C. by Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang (Schwartz). When he came to power, he burned poetry, historical, and philosophical texts to prevent comparison between himself and previous rulers who could be considered more successful, virtuous, or magnanimous than himself. This emperor is the same ruler who began the construction of both the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Soldiers.
The Spanish reading group "The Pleasure of Reading with Angelica Breña" is held in the Basalt Library each summer and is led by Angelica Breña. I could say that is a bilingual group, where we can talk in English or Spanish, and read in Spanish.
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