What does Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop have in common with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? Both have been targets of attempts to ban them from public libraries. Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 24, and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 30, the Ventura County Libraries are highlighting novels that share the same honor during the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week.
Jackie Griffin, county library director, says that county libraries do get the occasional challenge but that she isn’t aware of any challenges that have arisen over the last year. Griffin says that books are challenged for various reasons, including for having sexually explicit scenes, language or even satanic depictions or “what they interpret as satanic depictions.”
“Banned Books Week exists to bring attention to the fact that there are still books being censored around this country off and on,” said Griffin, “and we’ve seen an example of that here in Ventura County.”
In August, at a meeting of the Conejo Valley Unified School District trustees, Conejo Valley school board President Mike Dunn was the lone vote cast to ban Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the ninth-grade curriculum, calling the book “too controversial.”
“I think these are opportunities for us to talk and share and develop family standards and our own standards,” said Griffin. “It gets dangerous when we start trying to decide for other people what their standards should be.”
Ron Solorzano, regional librarian for Ojai Valley and El Rio, says that the books on display for Banned Books Week at the Ojai Valley Library represent books challenged over time and serve as reminders to stay vigilant.
“To understand that even if things seem as if they are going all right, and it seems like [censorship is] not a problem here, we’re only really a few steps away from it becoming a problem here.”
For more information on Banned Books Week, visit www.bannedbooksweek.org.