Redlands Library Forbidden Books Week celebrates Americans’ freedom to read – Redlands Daily Facts


By Kristina Naftzger

Teens, next week is Forbidden Books Week, a time when libraries across the United States affirm and celebrate your freedom to read.

Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes a list of its 10 most contested books of the year, and guess what? Young adult titles invariably dominate the charts. Last year was no exception. YA titles like “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “All American Boys ”by Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely,“ To Kill a Mockingbird ”by Harper Lee and“ The Hate U Give ”by Angie Thomas were all on last year’s roster.

The truth is, these books (and many, many more) may indeed contain parts that offend you. They may use language or deal with subjects that make you cringe. They could literally say things that hurt you. It’s not that librarians think every book ever written is worthy of praise and your time. We find some books offensive, even repulsive, and we might secretly wish no one would read them.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (courtesy photo)

But (and that’s a big “but”) we think you should be able to seek and receive information from all perspectives without restriction – that’s what it means to enjoy what’s called freedom. intellectual. It is one of the fundamental values ​​of librarianship. We believe it is your job / privilege / responsibility, working with your families, to determine what is good for you to read, and we mean it for each person. And because everyone is different, with different values ​​and political views and different thresholds of repulsion, we resist censorship in all its forms. Basically, library workers are like bespectacled superheroes passionately advocating for your right to read things that might make you sick (just kidding, not all of us wear glasses). Nothing!

That being said, let me tell you about some frequently contested YA books that you may or may not want to read to celebrate this year’s Forbidden Books Week.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie is one of the best books I have ever read. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s relatable, and according to the American Library Association, this is LOTS contested for a number of reasons, including “profanity, sexual references and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part. of the author “. This book is certainly an opportunity for you to educate yourself with your family and decide if it is right for you.

The story is about Junior and his life on and off a Spokane Indian reservation. When Junior leaves the reserve to attend and play basketball at an all-white high school in town, he finds himself stuck between two worlds and rejected by both. Junior is a victim, an underdog, a hero, a thug, a survivor… a lot of identities that many of us experience in high school, but on an exponential scale. If you love books that tear your guts out but still leave you with hope, then this book might be the one you’re relieved to always find on the library shelf.

“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely, another of last year’s most contested books, is a story told from two angles. Rashad was 16 when he was mistaken for a shoplifter in a convenience store. The situation quickly escalates, misinterpretations ensue, and he is severely beaten by a police officer. Rashad’s classmate Quinn Collins witnesses the scene, but feels conflicted about revealing the truth about what he saw as the cop is a close family friend.

Tensions boil as calls for racism and brutality resonate in the community. This book explores the agonizing effects of a violent moment from the perspective of two American boys. According to the American Library Association, “All American Boys” was on this year’s list of ten biggest challenges for “profanity, drug use and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote anti-belief views. -police, contained divisive matters and was “too much of a sensitive issue at the moment.”

Teens, in the American Library Association’s “Declaration on the Freedom to Read,” list a series of proposals designed to help librarians and publishers understand how to best protect your freedom to read. They write: “We do not state these propositions with the comfortable conviction that what people read does not matter. Rather, we believe that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

We wish you free reading in the days to come and trust you to think critically, even on the titles you decide to remove.

For more information on Forbidden Book Week, visit

Kristina Naftzger is a Youth Services Library Specialist at AK Smiley Public Library, 125 W. Vine St., Redlands.

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