Thursday, 1 May 2014

Which books are challenged more– classics or contemporary?

This was a study conducted in the USA looking at the lists of books that had been challenged in libraries between the years of 2000 and 2010. In conducting the study the author looked previous research that had been conducted with similar topics including one on the difference between censorhip and selection of books. The librarian use of selection is positive while not misinterpreting the books to make them say what is not the intention. On the other hand censors take words and passages out of the context of the whole work to give the work a different meaning. An example of this is seen in the Banned Books Week (2013) the reporter here has spoken to the authors of frequently challenged books, one of the authors, Jay Ashton, tells of a case where a school was having a meeting about bannin his book about teen suicide, Thirteen Reasons Why. A parent read out a scene out of context. A student then explained to those at the meeting about the context of the passage and so the book was allowed to stay. The article also mentions another work that built upon the selection ideas and said that censoring books gives them a higher status than they would otherwise have. This is because through the process of challenging a work the work becomes canonised through the extra attention given to it. This also states that due to the number of established classics that frequently appear on banned book lists contemporary books that are on these lists are given a greater status than they necessarily deserve.
The study conducted its research through making a list of the most frequently cited reasons for books being banned and then through spreadsheets discovered the number of times each reason was given for each book. Through the spreadsheets that were made the researchers were able to determine whether more classics or contemporary books were challanged, if there was a rise in the number of contemporary books that had been challenged and the similiraties and differences between the challenges of contmeporary books and classics. The results were that 374 contemporary books were and 15 were classic so contemporary books were challenged more. There were 454 complaints against contmeporary books taking into account that there were some challenges for the same books for a different reason the number of challenges has not gone up. The highest number of challenges for bothe categories was for being sexually explicit.
From reading this I learnt that adults particularly parents are very concerned about what children read and what ideas this may give them. I also learnt that young people can have knowledge about what is important to them and teach the adults in their lives about a better way to look at the world. This is relevant to working with children and young adults by making me think about what my ideas are about what is appropriate for children and young adults to be reading. It is also important to educate their parents, caregivers and teachers about the importance of young people being able to make informed decisions about their lives and read a wide variety to expand their minds.
This relates to censorship by looking at the reasons different books have been censored, banned, or challenged and how different books are viewed over time. It also looks at whether banning actually has the desired effect or makes them more desireable to the young people.

Akers, C. G. (2012). Which books are challenged more - classics or contemporary? New Library World, 113(7), 385-395. doi: 
 Banned Books Week: 'Captain Underpants' tops list of challenged books. (2013, September 24). CNN Wire. Retrieved from

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