It’s been quite a while since I read The Kite Runner, but was intrigued when I saw it on this years top ten list. According to the ALA Field Report there were some challenges that resulted in the book remaining on the school reading lists, but there were some where the book was removed from the list (and not even offered as an alternate reading).
This is not the first year that The Kite Runner has made the list. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund put together a good article about the decision to pull this book this year — and it is noted in the ALA field report that “Students spoke up about the censorship and as a result, the administration shut down the high school newspaper.”
One of the things that is highlighted about this is the process that is used in deciding if a book is going to be pulled from curriculum or from the library shelves. As noted in the CBLDF article, sometimes it comes down to an individual to make the call (such as the superintendent), which allows for a lot of individual bias to come into play. Especially when you look at the numbers of who is bringing these challenges.
Library patrons and Parents are the largest groups of challengers, but 14% of challenges are brought by Boards or administrations. That’s more than Librarians, teachers, political and religious groups, elected officials and students COMBINED.
While we’re looking at the numbers… the vast majority (over half) of all Challenges take place within public libraries. These also seem to be the ones that we hear a lot less about, perhaps because there isn’t the same level of reaction that we see when a book is challenged in a school.
I can’t help but reflect on how strong the voices of students have been in the past year (and before) when it comes to standing up for their rights, and against things that are wrong in our world… and it makes me wonder if the fact that we hear about so many of the challenges within schools is tied to this phenomenon. Students are raising their voices. Speaking out when they see injustice – I hope we continue to foster this in our younger generations.
(My apologies if this is a bit of an all-over-the-place post. That’s what you get when I end up writing before my morning coffee!)