Timeline: 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Banned Books Week, Censorship, Freedom to Read Foundation, General Interest, Intellectual Freedom Issues, Office for Intellectual Freedom

Since 1982, Banned Books Week has rallied librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, teachers, and readers of all types to celebrate and defend the freedom to read. As we commemorate 30 years of Banned Books Week and enter our 31st year of protecting readers’ rights, ALA is pleased to unveil this new timeline of significant banned and challenged books. 

In addition, leading up to Banned Books Week 2012, we will be highlighting one book from the timeline each day. Today we begin with 1982 and feature “Slaughterhouse-Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut.

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

In 1982, a sharply divided Supreme Court found that students’ First Amendment rights were violated when “Slaughterhouse-Five” and 8 other titles were removed from junior and senior high school libraries. The Island Trees (NY) School District School Board removed the books in 1976 because they were “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.” In Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v. Pico, the Court found that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” Vonnegut’s satirical novel, published in 1969, considers themes of war and human nature, and is widely regarded as his most influential work.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

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