Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Book Week

 It is that time of year again. The one where we celebrate our freedom to read what we choose and for other people to do the same even if we don't like or agree with their choices. It begins tomorrow on September 24 and runs until October 1. Over the year the American Library Association compiles data on books that have been challenged and the reasons given for wanting their removal from libraries. You can find information and some rather troubling lists here.Check your local library to see if they are doing anything special.

Here is the Top 10 list of banned/challenged book of 2010 with their reasons :
  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence
There are always a couple of things that make me want to tear at my hair about the list every year. This year's culprits:
1. How did Brave New World suddenly get back on the list and make it all the way to #3? Did a bunch of people suddenly realize that their former attempts to oust it from the world had been unsuccessful and so they decided to launch a new campaign? It hasn't made the Top Ten in the last 10 years and wasn't in the top 50 for the 90's.
2. Where on earth are these people getting the sexually explicit scenes in The Hunger Games from? Do they have a different copy of the book than I read? There is some kissing but nothing remotely deserving of the label "sexually explicit". Are these people actually reading the books they are challenging?


  1. Hear, hear! And, I don't like Tango personally, but that's a picture book--parents can certainly exercise their right to tell their own child not to check that book out. No one's making the kids take it home with them.

    I also thought Part-Time Indian makes some really profound statements; one of those statements is about racism... why do we want to ban books that are exposing racism and teaching more sensitivity to the issue? It's not like that book is even remotely encouraging racism!! (sigh) So why is "racism" listed as a reason to ban it? The other stuff I can understand to a point.

  2. Exactly! I exercise my right to do this every week. I go through my kids books before they check them out every week and if I don't want them reading something I always explain why. I don't feel that I have the right to tell other people's kids what they can't read though. Seriously.

    And yes to the racism reason for Part-Time Indian. That one gets used for books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn too. Hear tearers both.

  3. Wait...are they saying Tango has a religious viewpoint or people don't like because of their religious viewpoint?

  4. Twilight banned? It just should never have been published. :-)

  5. April, it lists the reasons people gave for challenging it so it is most likely the latter.

    :) re Twilight.