Banned Books Week 2014 to Focus on Comics, Graphic Novels

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Banned Books Week has officially announced its theme for 2014: comic books and graphic novels.

“This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship,” Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee, says.

There were 307 reports of censorship to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, including Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. The graphic novel generated controversy last year when reports surfaced of the Chicago Public School system’s efforts to ban it. A CPS spokeswoman later clarified that they were not attempting to ban the book altogether, but rather to remove it from the seventh-grade curriculum after the book’s content (which includes violence and explicit language) was deemed inappropriate for that age group.

Earlier this year, Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home was also under fire. When the College of Charleston listed the book on its recommended summer reading list for incoming freshmen, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to cut funding to the school due to the memoir’s depiction of same-sex relationships. Bechdel told Publisher’s Weekly, “It’s sad and absurd that the College of Charleston is facing a funding cut for teaching my book—a book which is after all about the toll that this sort of small-mindedness takes on people’s lives.”

Other books that were challenged in 2013 included Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, John Green’s Looking for Alaska and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Banned Books Week, established in 1982, is described as “the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.” It will take place from September 21 to 27 this year.

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