Hear ye! Hear ye! It is that special time of year where we celebrate our intellectual freedom (a.k.a the right to read what we darn well please)- that most special of bookworm holidays- Banned Books Week. (Yes, I realize that was a horrible run on sentence.)
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) releases a top ten list, each year, of the books that have been most challenged over the course of the year. A book challenge sadly defers from a reading challenge in that it is considerably less awesome, and also does essentially the opposite.
According to the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books website:
“Challenges are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others. In some cases OIF may get numerous details about who challenged a book, why they are complaining about the book, what happened during the challenge, and the current status of the book. In other cases, few details are supplied beyond the fact of the challenge and the reasons for the challenge.”
So without further ado, here is the ALA’s——–
“The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 are:
1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,
by Sherman Alexie
Summary:”Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.” -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons for challenge: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
2) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Summary:”An intelligent and outspoken only child, Satrapi–the daughter of radical Marxists and the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor–bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.” -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons for challenge: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
Summary:”At New York City’s Central Park Zoo, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches.” -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Summary: “Pecola Breedlove, a young eleven-year-old black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dreams grow more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity.–from publisher’s description.”-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
5) It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Summary:”Introduces human sexuality, describes the changes brought about by puberty, and discusses sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and pregnancy.”-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Summary:”When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.” -From Amazon.com
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Summary: “Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant’s son in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.”-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Summary:”The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.” -From Amazon.com
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
9) A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Summary: “The memoir of Jaycee Dugard who was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, when she was 11 years old, and was missing for over 18 years before her reappearance in 2009.”-From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
10) Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Summary: “Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.” -From sherloc.imcpl.org
Reasons: sexually explicit
(Out of 311 challenges as recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom)”
Sadly, I have not read every book on this list. So I cannot attest to all of their pros-cons. And therefore, I will not bore you with reviews.
Essentially that is the point of the list, to let you know that my opinion of a book and yours may differ. And that is totally cool. However, my opinion of a book (or the opinion of any other reader) should not keep you from having access to read it, if you want to. And vice versa. That is not cool.
That is the what Intellectual Freedom is all about. It’s the right of equal access to books for everyone.
So go on with your bookworm self, and read what you wanna. Because, the more you read, the more you know and “oh the places that you’ll go”….Okay…. I’ll stop now.
-Blog post by Children’s Librarian, Kasey Panighetti. You can read more from her at her blog.
Some things you can do to celebrate the #freedomtoread. Tweet selfies of yourself with your favorite banned or challenged book using the hashtags #BannedBooksWeek and #ireadbannedbooks.
If you’re feeling inspired to read aloud, you can submit a banned book reading video to the Virtual Read-Out page on YouTube.
You can also join the #litchat on Twitter on Friday, October 2 from 4-6 pm EST and use the #bannedbooksweek hashtag.