Some thoughts on Banned Books Week by Albuquerque writers...


Alamosa Books will be celebrating Banned Books Week, Sept 24
- Oct 1, by bringing together several writers who live in Albuquerque and Rio
Rancho, to read selected passages from their favorite banned books. The reading
takes place on Saturday, Oct 1, 1:00 to 2:30 pm. As always, the public is

Also, come in during the week and we will video record you
reading for two minutes from a banned book. The video will be submitted to the
youtube channel for Banned Books Week, and be available to be viewed with other
readers videotaped from all over the country.


Below are some thoughts from several of the eleven readers for Saturday's Banned Books event:


"Books are challenged for many reasons: too graphic, too obscene, sexual content, language, and inappropriate content (whatever that means), to name a few. I certainly understand why a parent may want to "protect" their children from learning about difficult things, but that is a parent's role, not the role of a public library or school charged with representing a myriad of views. Besides, there are so many benefits to reading. Good literature provokes discussion and reflective thinking about difficult topics and exposes the reader to new ideas and different ways of thinking, and good literature makes people feel they are not alone. The book I chose to read is a YA novel about a girl who lost her mother. It is a book I would have liked to have read when I was 13 and lost my mother."

- Jennifer Simpson is finishing her MFA at the University of New
Mexico-- working on her dissertation, "Reconstructing My Mother," a
memoir. She is the founder and co-host of Duke City DimeStories, a monthy open
mic for prose. Her work has been published in, Bartleby
Snopes, and Creative Human and community newspapers. She is a volunteer for the
Albuquerque Children's Grief Center.



“ A very common reason parents challenge books is because they are afraid that if their child reads of something bad happening to a character (usually as the result of a decision they've made,) that this same thing will happen to the reader. This magic thinking contradicts what I think actually happens: readers can learn valuable lessons about life. They can actually see the results of bad decisions and go, "Huh. Maybe doing that thing isn't such a good idea." And sometimes things happen to
characters that aren't the result of their doing the wrong thing. This is a valuable lesson, too, if only to show that sometimes life is capricious, but especially to show that bad things can be survived. Bad things can be learned from. Bad things can be put behind us."

- Steven Gould is the author of JUMPER which was on the 100 most banned books in
America list from 1990 to 1999. This was hard, since it wasn't even published
until late 1992 but through dint of hard work and offending the easily
offended, the novel managed to get on the list. Steve believes parents should
be involved in their own children's reading selections but not those of
children wholly unconnected to them.

"Within my own family, I have seen first-hand the effects of losing your ability to speak. My mother grew up in India, in a small village that did not encourage learning for women. The highest level of education she’d completed was middle school. When she moved to this country, my mother didn’t know how to
read. Because of her ignorance, many took advantage of her. Illiteracy is a form of censorship: a way to control and hinder.

I believe if she had been given access to learning and language, she would have thrived, and her life would have been drastically different. Most likely it would have been a happier existence: for herself and for her children.

When we fight for freedom of speech and the right to publish what we want, we must also remember that this right goes hand in hand with the right to learn and the right to read. Accessibility, especially for those who are marginalized, is valuable in order to create a fair and more equitable world."

- AnnamManthiram, novelist: is the author of the novel After the Tsunami and a
short story collection (Dysfunction), which was a Finalist in the 2010 Elixir
Press Fiction Award and received Honorable Mention in Leapfrog Press’ 2010
Fiction Contest. A graduate of the M.A. Writing program at the University of
Southern California, Manthiram resides in Rio Rancho.


"The banning, or the more mild and contemporary phrasing of the process, the "challenging" of books and the right to be placed on the shelves of our public and school libraries, the right to be sold in our communities via our bookstores, is an old and familiar event in mankind's history once it became obvious that knowledge is power. And the rewriting of history is key to maintaining control.

I witnessed this mentality firsthand as a bookseller for Barnes& Noble in Rockford, Illinois, sometime in the mid-1990s. Luis J. Rodriguez's memoir, "Always Running", was on the optional reading list at one of the local high schools. Did I say O-P-T-I-O-N-A-L? A student took the book home and
complained to her father about some of the content of the book (a harsh, blunt, realistic telling of becoming a gang member in Los Angeles, and the author's redemptive journey guided by reading, writing, and the arts.) The father turned the book over to a friend of his, a gentleman who hosted a daily talk radio show. The radio host began reading passages of the book (out of context) on his
semi-conservative show and implanted a mob mentality as his loyal listeners began to storm the local school board meetings and demand the banning of "Always Running."

Once again, the personal account of a member of a marginalized population's American experience was squashed, locked up where it would be out-of-sight-out-of-mind. His story conflicted with the dominant culture's own self-image, and would not be tolerated. Even if young latino students were
gravitating towards Luis' book: his words a reflection of their own experience and one that provided a glimpse into an alternative from la vida loca.

The conquistadors destroyed entire libraries of the indigenous peoples they enslaved in the Americas, the Nazi's whipped the German people into book burning frenzies, and today in the state sharing our western border, a law has been passed to suppress in the schools the texts and teachings that provide a people their own version of their place in the history of this country. And this is why practitioner's of freedom of thought and expression must never let down their guard."

- Richard Vargas, poet: McLife (Main Street Rag Press) and American Jesus (Tia
Chucha Press).

Views: 436

Comment by Richard V on September 27, 2011 at 2:07pm
Join us in the book store or on the internet. Banned Books Reading will be streamed on the internet as it's happening. A link will be posted at our website, In addition, the clips from the event will be posted on the ABFFE YouTube channel as a part of the Banned Book Week Internet Readout.
Comment by Granjero on September 29, 2011 at 10:03pm

I am all for the non-banning of books, though I think there are books that should be kept out of a kids/school library. 


I remember checking out "Cold Feet" from our school library several times.... I don't recall what the book was about but something to do with a girl pretending to be a boy... and something about breasts.  Me and my friend checked the book out so often that the librarian eventually caught on and removed the book from the library.  Ahh.. memories of book bans....

Comment by Another Mike on September 29, 2011 at 11:13pm
Who gets to decide which books to ban from school libraries?
Comment by Granjero on September 29, 2011 at 11:38pm

I will.  Is it a salary position? 


I think it's obvious that there are books that should not be read by a 10 year old or even a 13 year old. Books with high sexual content or even medium to low sexual content and books with detailed gory violence as examples. 


What about racist books? 


Some see Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as racist books.  I think there is even a movement to replace the word "nigger" with African American or something. 


Books that activity promote racism? What if it's written for juveniles? Do you want your kids picking up a copy of "Hitler the Frog Prince? with a picture of a saluting mustached frog on the front?

Common Sense needs to be reinstated in this society. Maybe I'll write a book about it.


Comment by Stuart Heady on September 30, 2011 at 8:46am

When someone sees a book that seems to be "inappropriate" to them and thinks it should not be on a library shelf somewhere, anywhere - this is a bad idea.  America was not founded on the idea of setting up cultural Ayatollahs to rule over what can be thought.  


Every now and then people come forward who want to propose themselves as arbiters of what decency, common sense or even knowledge itself is supposed to be.  Every time it proves to be folly.  The First Amendment is the greatest thing that the mind of man has come up with.  

Comment by Richard V on September 30, 2011 at 10:36am
ditto that, stuart. i was reading Harold Robbins when i was in the 5th grade. i wouldn't recommend it for every 5th grader. of course not. but it didn't warp my mind. just another piece of what made me want to become a writer...
Comment by Granjero on September 30, 2011 at 1:04pm

@Stuart @Richard  No offense but that's just silly.  5th graders should have books about orgies available?  Or books of graphic sexual encounters with animals?  How about books that tell how and why homosexuals and lesbians should be beaten and killed? Or a book supporting the view of Manbla... Mambla?   Whatever.


I know.  Those are extreme examples, and maybe you're just referring to literature, like Lady Chatterley's Lover,  but the fact is some books need to be banned from childrens libraries..  There is a decency meter for everyone. Even you two, I suppose.   It's why we don't have Hustler magazines on the racks of elementary schools.


I know, you're thinking (or at least I hope you are) what a moron, those are stupid examples and would or should never be allowed in schools. You are making a statement that there should be no restrictions.You're wrong. Where that line is drawn is a good question though, but there should be a line. 

Comment by Granjero on September 30, 2011 at 8:11pm
good ones
Comment by Another Mike on September 30, 2011 at 11:31pm

Yes.  Even children's Bible stories can be pretty graphic.  I remember reading how girls were lined up and tested for their virginity, too -- but not in the children's version.


I wish I'd kept a list of the things I was reading to my son.  Although listed as age appropriate, but I didn't think so.  Telling lies to get out of trouble...was only a minor example.

Comment by Richard V on October 3, 2011 at 8:49am
The Banned Books reading highlighted a diverse group of books. Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterly's Lover, Ulysses, The Chocolate War, Lolita, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Howl, and several others. I trust the school librarians and educators to make sure the reading available to the students in the schools is appropriate. Optional readings are just that: optional. The kid doesn't have to read it. There is no reason to demand the book be taken off the shelves. Parents want to monitor what their kid reads, good for them. Parents want to monitor what other kids in the school read, then they are imposing their own morales and political views. And that is wrong. The reading was videotaped, and will be posted to Youtube in case you missed it. Thanks to all who read and participated.


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