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Why recognise banned books? 


Libraries all over the world will be celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week at the end of September. 

book hanging in the airThe event runs from 27 September through to 3 October and focuses on young adult novels.  

 “Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book,” USA Banned Books Week National Committee chair, Judith Platt, says.

 “These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends.

"These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”

Into the River

book cover of into the riverTed Dawe's young adult book Into the river has made headlines recently after it was removed from shelves following complaints over the content.

Auckland Libraries initially submitted a successful appeal to the first R14 restriction imposed on the book when they realised that removing it from open shelves had prevented even eligible readers from checking it out.

However, a later appeal has seen an interim restriction order placed on the book until a board of review makes a new decision.

Auckland Libraries cannot lend, distribute or display their 53 copies of the book despite believing it should be unrestricted.

The current debate about Dawe’s book  illustrates the complexity of the New Zealand censorship landscape. The Chief Censor is part of the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) within the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Film and Literature Classification Board of Review also sits in the department, but acts completely independently.

This case study on the OFLC website describes how Into the river has been dealt with by the two bodies, including submissions and the subsequent appeals.

READ MORE: Into the River and Banned Books: a conversation with the Office of Film and Literature Classification

Learn more about books that were challenged in 2014

Check out a list of some of the most famous banned books

© Auckland Council