Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Banned Books Week!

Since Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to throw in my two cents about the whole banning books issue.

How and why are people still banning books? I thought we were moving towards a more open society. Don't get me wrong, I definitely think it's a good idea to keep a six year old from reading The Hunger Games. Parents should still be aware of what their children are reading and if they don't feel their tween or teen is mature enough to handle the content of a certain book, that is just fine by me. But trying to keep everyone from reading books like The Hunger Games? Craziness.

Here's a little bit of information about challenging, from ALA:
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
I'm not saying that everyone needs to read these challenged books. I'm not saying that others aren't allowed to have their own opinions. What I want to stress is that the opinions of a few shouldn't mean that others aren't able to make their own decision.

Here's a list of the ten most challenged books (or series) from 2011:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

My Mom's Having a Baby!: A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

Alice(series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism

Source: Banned Books Week website

How many have you read? I've read The Hunger Games and Gossip Girl series but that's all.

There's also the list found here that has the 100 top banned books from 2000-2009. I've read 10 on this list. How about you? Top of the list? None other than Harry Potter. They have a similar list for 1990-1999 (10 again here). Surprising fact from this list: Judy Blume has five books on that list. Another surprise? You can find Where's Waldo on here too. For interest's sake and because everyone's talking about it because of the film adaptation - The Perks of Being a Wallflower made it on the top 10 list in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. I wonder if it will make it on the list again next year?

In closing, I want to suggest that you check out a banned book this week. Personally, I'm going to try to make time to read Perks (since I missed the boat on that one when I was in high school). Also, see if you can talk to your local librarians about creating some awesome displays like these:

As always, happy reading :)


  1. It shocks me to see all those books with explicit sexual material are in the top ten but where's 50 Shades? Where's any book by Tucker Max? I will never understand the haphazard way the few decide what is or isn't good for the majority when it comes to literature. Books aren't mandatory, if you don't like it then don't read it, don't let your kids read it, but don't tell me I can't either or it'll be the only thing I want to do! And Judy Blume? Um, her books GOT me through my tween years :-)

  2. Interesting, isn't it Jenn? I have a feeling a lot of the challenges come from books parents feel their children shouldn't be reading. It's easier for them to find a copy of, say, Are You There God, It's Me Margaret than 50 Shades. Tucker Max won't be in the kids section but The Hunger Games will.
    I remember when Speak was being challenged and so many YA authors jumped to defend it saying that they've heard of many girls who were helped by this book and they wouldn't have been able to get through their issues without it. What would have happened if that book had been banned and those girls weren't able to read it?


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