The importance of the First Amendment and the concept of "intellectual freedom" might not always be readily apparent to most kids, but Banned Books Week is a great opportunity to make those lessons come alive for children—and adults.
Banned Books Week is held annually during the last week of Sept. (Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012). The week is an occasion for libraries and bookstores across the U.S. to help folks realize just how real and ongoing a problem censorship is.
More than 11,000 books have been challenged (though not necessarily successfully censored) since 1982, the inaugural year of Banned Books Week. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the vast majority of challenges to books are initiated locally by parents, likely in well-meaning attempts to protect their children.
Last year, there were 326 challenges reported to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, based on everything from offensive language, to violence, insensitivity, religious viewpoint and sexual explicitness. In addition to those challenges, the ALA estimates that as many as 60 to 70 percent of challenges may go unreported.
Over the past year, the 10 most challenged titles were:
- ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
- The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
- Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Among banned and challenged classics you’re likely familiar with are:
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell
- The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
- Beloved and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Solon branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library is a great place to stop if you want to check out any of the books above.
Are any of your favorite books on the most challenged list? Have you ever asked for a local school or library to remove a book from their shelves because you felt it crossed a line? Get the conversation going in the comments.