Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books in 2008

In celebration of Banned Books Week, I want to share with you then 10 most challenged books of 2008 and why they were challenged. Note: There is a difference between a challenged book and a banned book. For more info on that, check back tomorrow!
  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
Now just for fun, let's compare this list to the 10 most challenged books from 1990-1999. If I can find it, I've included the reasons for the challenges.
  1. Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz Reasons: scary, violent, occult
  2. Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite Reasons: promotes homosexuality, age inappropriate
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou Reasons: sexually explicit, specifically graphic depictions of molestation and rape
  4. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain Reasons: vulgar language; offensive to African Americans
  6. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck Reasons: "profanity and using God's name in vain"; vulgar and offensive; contains terminology offensive to blacks
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume Reasons: sexually explicit, profanity, morality (pre-marital sex)
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson Reasons: offensive language, fantasy (references to witchcraft)
  9. Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman Reasons: promotes homosexuality, age inappropriate
  10. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger Reasons: anti white" and "obscene"; language and content of the book
Looking at these two lists, the thing that stands out to me most is that most books are challenged for being "inappropriate to age group". However, the difference in the two lists is that 8 out of the 10 books in 2008 were challenged for having something to do with sexuality where only 5 books from 1990-1999 were cited for being "sexually explicit" or "promoting homosexuality".

This makes me wonder, are more books being published for young adults today that are more sexually explicit? Looking at the Gossip Girl series and Lauren Myracle's series that are both on the list and marketed for teenage girls, an argument can be made that yes, more sexually explicit books are being published. It's also obvious that parents have an objection to these books.

Every day books are challenged. Concerned citizens protest classrooms, school districts, and libraries to have books removed from shelves and reading lists. The American Library Association maintains that everyone, no matter age, race, religion, economic background, or sexual orientation, can be barred from reading whatever they want. This Freedom to Read is fundamental to librarians. However, maintaining this freedom isn't easy. Sometimes books do appear to be inappropriate; games too violent; movies too sexual. Sometimes our own morals and ideals get in the way of intellectual freedom. But as librarians, it is our job to make sure that everyone has equal access to information. That includes everything from the latest Gossip Girl book to nude photography books to rated "R" movies.

While it may be hard to stay strong against overwhelming opposition, think of it this way: if you allow one book to be removed from your shelves today, who's going to stand up for the freedom to read when all are the books are banned tomorrow?

No comments:

Post a Comment