By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Cooke County —
At young ages, children are taught the importance of reading.
But what happens to that significance when those same children see adults trying to ban books?
This answer and many other reasons are why libraries, including Cooke County’s, are joining in with the American Library Association’s 30th annual Banned Book Week.
“We use this week to educate, Cooke County Library Director Jennifer Johnson-Spence said. “Some of the quote classics by Mark Twain are still being challenged, even though it has been over 50 years since they first came out.”
The Cooke County Library created a display for visitors of the library to look at over the next week. Banned book week began Saturday and will run through Oct. 1.
“Sex, profanity and racism remain the primary categories of objections, and most occur in schools and in libraries,” Robert P. Doyle explained in the introduction to Books Challenged or Banned in 2010-2011. “Frequently, challenges are motivated by the desire to protect children. While the intent is commendable, this method of protection contains hazards far greater than exposure to the “evil” against which it is leveled.”
The 2009-2010 Books Challenged or Banned List named a few books that have been banned or challenged in Texas including: Zlipha Keatley Snyder’s The Egypt Game, which was banned at Southern Hill Elementary School in Wichita Falls because the book depicts Egyptian worship rituals; Henderson Junior High School in Stephenville banned a number of books in the past such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and P.C. and Kristin Cast’s House of Night series.
Other books banned in 2009-2010 included: Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Anne Frank’s Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and Maya Angelou’s poem I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
“Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, I guess the holocaust didn’t happen,” Johnson-Spence said sarcastically, opposing the banning of the book.
In her years of working at public libraries, Johnson-Spence said she has never experienced a book being banned or challenged. The library has policy put into place by the Cooke County Commissioners to handle this type of situation, she said.
“I have had friends who have had this happen to them, it can be a nasty, long, drawn-out situation,” she added.
This year, 46 books made the Books Challenged or Banned in 2010-2011 list. A few listed have been carried over from the previous years, but a number are new additions include: Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, The Koran, Fredrick McKissack Jr.’s Shooting Star and many others.
“The challenged documents in the list are not brought by people merely expressing a point of view; rather, they represent to remove material from schools and libraries, thus restricting access to them by others,” Doyle said. “Even when the eventual outcome allows the book to stay on the library shelves and even when the person is a lone protester, the censorship attempt is real. Someone has tried to restrict another person’s ability to choose.”
Johnson-Spence said: “We provide information and people can choose from there.”