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Banned books fill shelves at libraries, book stores and the annual Planned Parenthood Book Sale

Banned Books Week increases demand for controversial books

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – When Banned Books Week began on the last week of September in 1982, it was intended to celebrate the freedom to read. These days, librarians say it feels more like a cautionary tale.

Banned books are on display and fill the shelves at the Santa Barbara Public Library, Chaucer's Books and the Mary Jane McCord Planned Parenthood Annual Book Sale at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Chaucer's Susanne Rorick said, "Banned Book Week is more important than ever. In recent years we've seen a surge in banned and challenged books."

In the past she recalls books being censored based on sexual content, violence and language.

Now she is seeing books banned for making people uncomfortable.

"Now we are seeing an uptick in bans and challenges on any book that encourages diversity and illustrates the experiences of minorities," said Rorick.

Librarians and booksellers believe there is an upside.

Some people are drawn to the banned books displays and are buying them or checking them out of the library.

They are also sparking conversations.

"In a strange way I think that means the publishing world is doing something right," said Rorick," We are seeing an unprecedented amount of diversity and representation in children's books right now, which is amazing."

But the resistance to making the old and new books available has grown.

Planned Parenthood book sale volunteer and former second grade teacher Melinda McKenna said, "I think banning books makes kids feel a little different and disappear, and they need to be seen and heard and honored. They need to see books that reflect themselves."

She created a display that shows the banned book titles along with reasons why they have been pulled from school libraries in conservative districts and states.

McKenna thinks a book entitled "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" was banned for a page that shows two bunnies holding paws with the words, "We will get married and hop together Forever."

Chaucer's owner Mahri Kerley said she grew up in Canada and always had her nose in a book.

She said her husband encouraged her to open Chaucer's Books because she had a lot of books and was always acquiring more.

Kerley never expected to see so many books on the banned shelves in the United States.

Chaucer's banned book display has caution tape along the shelves.

The books that have been banned at one time or another include classics such as "1984" by George Orwell, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, and "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck.

Newer banned books include "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas, "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison and "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe.

Other banned books intended for children include "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, "A Wrinkle In Time" by Madeline L'Engle and "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" by Judy Blume.

Some people are drawn to the banned books. The extra publicity appears to have helped their sales.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor of News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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