It’s Banned Books Week again. If you’re not familiar, Banned Books Week is an annual week-long series of events that celebrate our freedom to read, and call attention to how often that freedom is threatened and quashed. This year the promotions run September 21st – 27th.
The American Library Association is the brains behind the operation, and they work hard to spread awareness about the threat of censorhip, and to remove barriers to literacy and books. As of the writing of this post, this is the most current list of Most Challenged Books (from 2013 – a list from 2014 will likely be forthcoming shortly after the year’s end). These are the books that various people, for various reasons have tried to restrict access to. Rather than simply choosing not to read the books themselves, they’ve taken it upon themselves to try to ensure nobody else can, either. Here is a video review of one of the most often challenged or banned books from the list below, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Watch our video, read the book, decide for yourself.
Here is the most current list:
1. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The bestselling series has been cited for offensive language, unsuited to age group and violence since its first book hit libraries in 1997. It topped the list in 2012, too.
2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
As one of America’s most important authors, Toni Morrison is no stranger to book bans and challenges. Her 1970 debut novel The Bluest Eye has been cited for offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group and violence.
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Despite winning the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature along with a throng of other awards, the book has been cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group. We’ve included it on our list of 50 Essential Young Adult Novels.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
It’s no surprise to see the 2012 bestseller on yet another challenged list. It’s been cited for nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Arguably the most popular series since Harry Potter, The Hunger Games has been cited for religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group.
6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
The School Library Journal called it book of the week when it first hit shelves in 2006, but challengers cite it for drugs, alcohol, smoking, nudity, offensive language and sexually explicit.
7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green is the author of the hit novel The Fault in Our Stars. His debut novel Looking for Alaska won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, but is cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Another book from our list of 50 Essential Young Adult Novels. The 1999 coming-of-age novel was re-popularized with the 2012 film adaption starring Emma Watson. It’s cited for drugs, alcohol, smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
The 1972 novel was awarded the Premio Quinto Sol Award which recognizes the best fictional work by Mexican American authors as a means of promoting Chicano writers. It’s cited for occult, satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint and sexually explicit
10. Bone by Jeff Smith
The popular graphic novel series for children has been cited for political viewpoint, racism and violence.
Banning books, challenging books, and of course even burning books is neither unusual nor new, but each year we see more voices added to the fight against it, and the fight for access to literature and to information. What can you do to help keep books accessible for everyone who wants to read them? Get involved! From the ALA web site:
“The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) offers a variety of resources for libraries, schools, and other organizations that want to get involved with and promote Banned Books Week. See the links on the left for information on promotional materials for sale at the ALA Store, free materials you can download or print off of the ALA website, and ideas for planning a Banned Books Week event in your community.”
See more ideas and resources about the prevention of censorship on the ALA web site.