Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013.

I was blessed to have some amazing teachers growing up who required and recommended all sorts of amazing books that even now, I count as some of my favorites. Some of the few that I read over and over again. Literally, books that changed by life and my worldview, for the better.

1984 by George Orwell

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

All of the above? Banned Books.

"Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship." ~Banned Books Website, Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association

Sometimes I feel like when we thing about banned books, we think about the 1960's or 1970's, burning books in church parking lots, and not about today. But the fact of the matter is that there are still campaigns and challenges to have books banned from schools and public libraries.

"A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported." -ALA

I think you'd be surprised to know what some of the most challenged books since 2001 have been:

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

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

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

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

Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Reasons: offensive language, racism, violence

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Reasons: occult/Satanism, violence

In fact, right now, everything I'm reading is on the banned books list--I'm re-reading A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Looking for Alaska by John Green is waiting for me at the library.  Are you reading one of the banned books this week? Is one of your favorites on the list?


  1. My Sister's Keeper is my favorite!! I also think everyone should have to read some of those books in their high school English class. I couldn't tell you what Brave New World was about, but I sure do remember suffering through it. :-) I think you can find a problem with every book out there if you really want to. Sad.

  2. Thank you for shedding light on this. I'm ashamed to say I had no idea! I'm actually really disturbed by this list. Makes me so sad to think my son won't be given the opportunity in school to read some true classics - books I consider my all-time favorites. Ill be sure to expand his school-given reading lists, that's for sure!


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