Banned Books Week: Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Banned Books Week is a national celebration of the freedom to read, and it occurs every year in the last week of September.  During this week, we take the time to consider the harmful effects of censorship by taking a close look at books that have been banned or challenged across the country.  Also, we celebrate the fact that we (and our parents) are able to make our own decisions and choices about what is right for us to read.

Books are challenged for a lot of different reasons — someone may think a book is too violent, has inappropriate sexuality, uses foul language, or displays racism.  Many of the books that people object to are books written for children and teens — likely because they want to protect young people from being exposed to what they consider inappropriate.  However, what is inappropriate for one family does not mean that another family cannot choose to read it, and in our country that right (to choose for ourselves) is protected.

According to the American Library Association, the top ten challenged books last year are the following:


View full image 1.  ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
View full image 2.  And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
 View full image 3.  The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
 View full image 4.  To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
 View full image 5.  Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
 View full image

6.  The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

 View full image 7.  My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
 View full image 8.  The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
 View full image 9.  The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
 View full image 10.  The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group


Have you read any of these books? How would you feel if someone decided for you that you could not read them? Discuss!

Meet Authors AND a Poetry Slam!

Am I dreaming?  BOTH these events in the same place on the same day?!  YES WAY, TED!  These two awesome events are both taking place at this year's Sonoma County Book Festival!

First:  Meet the Authors at a special Teen Author Panel

This is your chance to get up close and personal with three exciting authors of teen fiction!  The Teen Author Panel will be at Cafe Azul in Santa Rosa, from 2:00-3:00pm on Saturday, September 25.  A panel discussion is fun because it's usually a pretty informal presentation, not a canned speech;  the authors can relax and joke with the audience.  They might talk about things like how they got started writing, or how they come up with their stories — things you want to know if you are an aspiring writer yourself!

Sounds good, right?  Well, if that wasn't enough reason to mosey your way to downtown Santa Rosa, then THIS will be!  Immediately after the Author Panel will be a TEEN POETRY SLAM with cash prizes for the winners!!

The Teen Poetry Slam starts at 3:00pm, but participants must check in by 2:30pm.  Participation is open to teens ages 13-19.  Blah, blah, blah, there are a few rules to follow, but that's only to be expected for a serious competition.  Not a poet, and you know it?  That's ok — come anyway to cheer them on!  Judges are selected from the audience, and plus it'll be fun to see how creative your fellow Sonoma County teens can be.  See below for links to the Registration Form and Rules.

Hope to see you there!

Teen Book Review: Zeitoun

 Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Review by Marbeya, Northwest Branch

This book is about a Syrian-American, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, and his experience with Hurricane Katrina.  He has 4 kids with Kathy, who turned to Islamic traditions after her divorce, and owns a contracting company.  He convinces Kathy to take the children to safety without him, and stays behind to protect the house of any immense damages, going against the city officials warnings to evacute the city.  Once he witnesses the unsettling and surreal results of the hurricane he grabs his canoe and sets out to see the damages done throughout New Orleans.  He helps the local dogs, helps people still trapped inside their homes, and delivers water to people in need, all while trying to survive.  There are plenty of twists to the story including misjudgments that will shock the readers.

This is definitely one of my favorite books because the story is so touching and humbling.  I couldn't put it down, therefore managed to read it in a couple of hours, to my surprise.  Also, I love how easy it was to read so people of all ages will be able to enjoy this incredible journey.  I learned a lot about the tragedy with this first-hand insight and was shocked to find out how the situation was sadly handled.  This is a great book and recommend it to everyone looking for a story not only about the Hurricane Katrina but the American governement.

Marbeya is one of our teen book reviewers!  Do you want to submit your own book review?  Its easy just email!

Book Spotlight: Shift

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Rincon Valley & Sebastopol

Christopher and his best friend, Win, decide to take a bike trip across the country the summer after they graduate high school.  They are on the open road for several weeks when Win disappears.  Christopher is angry and confused but goes home to start his freshman year in college.  He is at college for a couple of weeks when he discovers that Win's parents are so desperate to find him that they send a FBI agent to question Christopher.  Christopher decides its time to find out what happened to Win or his family will pay the consequences for Win's disappearance. 
Why I picked it up:  When it first came out I read several good reviews about it.  One day I found myself without a book and decided to browse the shelves.  I was in a mood for a fast paced, good mystery and that is what I found.
Why I finished it:  The book started off good, right away I wanted to know what happened on the cross-country bike trip and Win.  The chapters switch from past to present, which kept me hooked.
I'd give it to:  Anyone who enjoys a fast paced mystery book, with a little bit of adventure.

National Library Card Sign-Up Month

If you don't already have a library card, now is the time to get one. September is National Library Card Sign-Up month. Don't be caught without it!

52 Ways to Use Your Card. One for each week of the year!

  1. Get to know your librarian, the ultimate search engine @ your library.
  2. Update your MySpace page.
  3. Research new job opportunities.
  4. Find a list of childcare centers in your area.
  5. Learn about local candidates for office.
  6. Pick up voter registration information.
  7. Check out your favorite graphic novel.
  8. Pick up a DVD.
  9. Get wireless access.
  10. Participate in a community forum. 
  11. Find out how to navigate the Internet.
  12. Prepare your resume.
  13. Get new ideas for redecorating your house.
  14. Get a list of community organizations.
  15. Attend a lecture or workshop.
  16. Hear a local author reading his/her latest novel.
  17. Join a book discussion group.
  18. Attend preschool story hour with your child.
  19. Get homework help.
  20. Look up all kinds of health information.
  21. Research the purchase of a new car.
  22. Trek to another planet in a Sci-Fi novel.
  23. Call the reference desk if you have a question.
  24. Research your term paper.
  25. Learn about the history or your city or town.
  26. Decide which computer to buy using a consumer guide.
  27. Check your stock portfolio.
  28. Borrow or download an audiobook for your next road trip or commute.
  29. Use the library’s resources to start a small business.
  30. See a new art exhibit.
  31. Volunteer as a literacy tutor.
  32. Find a new recipe.
  33. Ask for a recommended reading list for your kids.
  34. Make photocopies.
  35. Get a book from interlibrary loan.
  36. Enroll your child in a summer reading program.
  37. Take a computer class.
  38. Hear a poetry reading.
  39. Take out the latest fashion magazine.
  40. Enjoy a concert.
  41. Trace your family tree.
  42. Check out a special collection of rare books.
  43. Check out a legal question or issue.
  44. Find out how to file a consumer complaint.
  45. Learn about home improvement.
  46. Borrow some sheet music.
  47. Learn how to use a database or computerized catalog.
  48. Find the latest romance paperback.
  49. Pick up tax forms.
  50. Connect with other people in the community.
  51. Find a quiet spot, curl up with a book and enjoy.
  52. Read a newspaper from another country.

Top Reasons to Celebrate September!

American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership Month –

September 26, 10:00-3:00 the County-Wide Dog Training Club, Inc will host an AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day complete with activities and testing of your dog for certification as a Canine Good Citizen.  You can also talk to experienced breeders and get care tips for your dog. The even will be held at Montgomery Village.

Backpack Safety Month

Go to this website for good information on backpack safety and how to start a program in your community.

College Savings Month

Plan ahead for college.  This website has good information on many different plans to help you plan for future college costs.  Our Teen Blog also has lots of good information and books to check out to assist you in your financial planning for your future college days.  


California Wild Rice Month

Everything you ever wanted to know about California Wild Rice can be found on this website.  For more entertainment, go to the Free Rice program and play some games to help end world hunger. It is also National Rice Month.

Library Card Sign-up Month

Check out this site for 52 ways to use your library card.  September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, sponsored by the American Library Association.  It began in 1987 in the hopes of ensuring that every child should obtain a library card – and use it! 

Million Minute Family Challenge – September through December

This is a fun activity for the entire family or group of friends. Every minute your group plays and logs contributes to our goal of reaching 1 million minutes of game play across the United States and Canada before December 31, 2010! We know people enjoy the entertainment and education value of non-electronic games and here is your chance to prove just how popular they are!

National Honey Month

This month is set aside to honor the 212,000 beekeepers and 2.41 million colonies of honeybees which produce more than 200 million pounds of honey each year.  This local website offers many links to all kinds of information about honey.

National Mushroom Month

Our local Sonoma County Mycological Association has everything you ever wanted to know about mushrooms.  The Mushroom Council in San Jose has designated this month to promote the greater appreciation and use of fresh mushrooms.  Happy foraging!