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Too Hot to Touch
Virginia Lawrence | Caminito Del Rocio


Banned books in a flaming display at the Del Mar Library.
Photo Jorgina Soto.  Click on image to enlarge.


During Banned Book Week, observed nation-wide from September 21 to 27, publicity campaigns informed the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. To mark the event the Del Mar Library set up a banned book display table with cutout flames. Although the display came down after September 27, visitors can always get information about banned or censored books from the librarians.

The American Library Association (ALA) compiles lists of books that have been challenged or banned: “Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.”

Topping the list of 97 banned classics are The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. By 1981 Catcher had had “the dubious distinction of being at once the most frequently censored book across the country and the second most frequently taught novel in the public schools.” (www.crosscut.com 10/12/14)

Last month on September 29 NPR reported that during Banned Book Week seven books had been removed from the approved high school reading list in a Dallas school: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

Although the La Jolla Country Day School has the same flaming display of banned books as the Del Mar Library, it adheres to a slightly different timetable – it “celebrates” (in their words) banned books throughout the year. During Banned Book Week, the Middle and Lower School librarians do lessons about banned literature. The Upper School librarian, on the other hand, covers such literature throughout the year in English classes.

The Sandpiper’s new Roving Teen Reporter, Leah Gans, is a Junior at La Jolla Country Day. We asked for her comments. Leah has read a number of censored books in school: Catcher in the Rye, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. “My favorite of these is Catcher in the Rye,” she says, “although I also really enjoyed Speak.”


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