Banned Books Week is here!
This is an annual reminder to think for yourself, to not let others tell you what you can and can’t read, and to remind those that are fond of censorship that banning a book only boosts its popularity, as 2013’s most challenged books show (which I list below).
According to ALA, books are challenged mostly by parents and schools for being sexually explicit, age inappropriate, containing offensive language, violence and homosexuality. Occult or satanic themes, anti-family and religious viewpoints were other reasons.
2013’s most challenged books
307 challenges were made, the lowest number for 13 years while 2004 was the worst with 547 challenges.
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
- A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
- Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
Of those I’ve only read The Hunger Games. For the life of me I can’t figure out what religious viewpoint it had that was so offensive. I don’t remember any mention of religion actually. Odd.
About a week ago I read the true story And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell which has made the #1 spot four times since it’s publication in 2005 due to homosexuality and a supposed age inappropriateness. My library labelled it with a warning that it contains ‘same sex families’. Obviously I couldn’t wait for Banned Books Week to read it, and I’m glad I didn’t because it was a great book.
Want to read a banned book?
If you want to find a book to read yourself ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books resource has many lists of banned books and Goodreads has a listopia called Best Banned and/or Censored Books (or Worst to Have Banned) which lists over 400 books that have been banned, censored or removed from libraries.
How many banned books have you read? Do you think you’ve been sheltered?
I’ll leave you with some pearls of wisdom…