Welcome to Banned Books Week! Each day, we will post a poster of a GCC community member reading a book that has been banned at some point. We hope to highlight that we are lucky enough to have access to these books, and that these books mean a lot to people- their lives would be different had they not been able to access these books. By showcasing the censorship that is still occurring, we hope we can come one step closer to full access to information for everyone.
Our first poster features Professor Emeritus Anne Wiley, reading Persepolis. From the Comic Books Legal Defense Fund:
“Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up during the Iranian Revolution, has received international acclaim since its initial publication in French. When it was released in English in 2003, bothTime Magazine and the New York Times recognized it as one of the best books of the year. In 2007 it was adapted as an animated film, which was nominated for an Oscar and won the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize and a French César. Although it was certainly controversial in the Middle East, there were no publicly reported challenges or bans of the book in U.S. schools or libraries until March 2013, when Chicago Public Schools administrators abruptly pulled it from some classrooms.
The circumstances surrounding the ban remain unclear to this day. In an email to employees, principal Christopher Dignam of Lane Tech College Prep High School initially said that he had been instructed by district administrators to remove Persepolis from the school’s library in addition to discontinuing its use in classrooms. Predictably, a furor ensued as students and teachers held protests and anti-censorship groups including CBLDF demanded an explanation. The day after Dignam’s email, district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent another email to principals claiming that the intention was never to remove the book from libraries, but only from classrooms due to “graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use.” The book was approved for use in grade 11 classrooms, removed from grade 7 classrooms, and reviewed for use in grade 8 – 10 classrooms. The book is listed in CPS’s 2013-14 Literacy Content Framework only for grade 11 students, which likely means it was not approved for use in grade 8 – 10 classrooms.
As Chicago students themselves pointed out, the few panels in Persepolis depicting torture techniques that were used on Iranian dissidents are no more graphic than images encountered while studying other true events such as the Holocaust or slavery. Moreover, many of these same students are exposed to real-life violence daily in their own neighborhoods, so the official CPS justification for the restriction of a modern classic in the nation’s third-largest school district remains unconvincing.” (LINK)
We chose to highlight this poster, for this book, on the first day to call back to Molly Dowd, who chose this book to be on her poster last year. We love and miss you, Molly: https://www.facebook.com/libraryatGCC/photos/a.267357336630835.73393.214228015277101/652460144787217/?type=3&theater
Our second poster features a student, David Oneacre, reading a book from the Bone series.
The theme of this year’s Banned Books Week is comics and graphic novels. David is reading from a very popular series which was one of the top ten books that were banned or challenged in 2013. From the Comic Books Legal Defense Fund:
“Although considered a modern comics classic that’s delighted millions of readers all over the world, Jeff Smith’s Bone is also one of the most commonly challenged books in American libraries. Bone tells of three creatures known as the Bones, who are outcast from their home village of Boneville and lost in a human land called The Valley. In The Valley, the Bones find themselves surrounded by talking bugs, vicious rat-like monsters, magic, and the occasional dragon. Smith’s epic follows Fone Bone and his two cousins, Smiley and Phoney, as they meet the valley’s denizens, become embroiled in their society, and discover their own heroism in confrontation with the rat creatures and their mystical master, the Lord of Locusts.
According to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Bone series has faced several challenges and at least one ban over the years. (Some cases that were reported directly to OIF by librarians or teachers have incomplete information in order to maintain the submitters’ anonymity.)…
In 2012 Bone was relocated from a
Texas elementary school to a junior high school in the same district because of another “unsuited for age group” complaint. Finally in 2013 it was challenged twice more in Texas schools, at Colleyville Elementary School in Colleyville and Whitley Road Elementary in Watauga. In the latter case the unidentified complainant said that vol. 2, The Great Cow Race, was “politically, racially, or socially offensive,” while the parent in Colleyville complained of “violence or horror” in the entire series. Both school districts reviewed the books and opted to keep them where they were.
Because of the Texas challenges, Bone came in at #10 on ALA’s list of books frequently challenged in 2013. Smith responded to the inclusion of Bone on the list shortly after ALA announced it in early 2014:
I learned this weekend that Bone has been challenged on the basis of “political viewpoint, racism and violence.” I have no idea what book these people read. After fielding these and other charges for a while now, I’m starting to think such outrageous accusations (really, racism?) say more about the people who make them than about the books themselves.”