Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

Banned Dr Suess book the Lorax
Creative Commons: GoodNCrazy Flikr photostream
September 30 to October 6 is Banned Books Week, which brings attention to books that are challenged in schools and libraries. I never knew much about book banning until I was an adult. Even knowing conservative families through church who restricted their children's reading and movie watching, I wasn't aware back then that people actively worked to keep those books away from all kids.

Here are the ten most challenged books in 2011 according to the American Library Association, as reported on bannedbooksweek.org:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism
Any surprises? I'm wondering how The Hunger Games ties with the occult; I can see why religious parents might take issue with Harry Potter given it is literally about witches and magic, but The Hunger Games is a futuristic fantasy world with very little religious practice--it's mostly political. If it was lack of religion maybe that is a concern, but I don't get the occult angle. If anything, the violence in the third book Mockingjay is a concern, and might be an issue for particularly younger readers of YA. Still, that should be left to an individual parent to discern and should not restrict what other families allow their children to read.

Number four kind of shocks me, although I suppose it shouldn't since in some cases, opposition to sex education in schools is more prevalent in areas with high teen pregnancy (The Education of Shelby Knox is a great documentary about a Texas high school student who fought the school board to include sex education).

Are you participating in any aspect of Banned Books Week? Last year, I was part of a read-out at Anderson's Books YA Lit conference which happens annually around the same time. That was very cool to be a part of a collective group reading aloud together against book censorship. Let me know if you find any good links to articles!


  1. I'm loving all the blog posts people have put up on Banned Books Week. There are some great Tumblr posts out there too. I saw the Hunger Games occult thing, and I couldn't figure that one out. I thought the anti-ethnic part was weird as well.

  2. The only one of the 10 listed that I've read is Brave New World and that was when I was in high school in the late 1960's. It seemed radical for its time, but very in place by the time I read it. Not for younger kids, but suitable for high school students. I need to read To Kill a Mockingbird but I'm not all that interested in the rest of the list except for maybe the Hunger Games Trilogy.

    Tossing It Out

  3. I don't get the Hunger Games/Occult angle either. I think I must have missed something.

    The idea of #4 being on this list makes me laugh.

  4. I've read a number of those books. While I can see why some parents wouldn't want their own children to be exposed to certain kinds of content, I don't think it's fair for a parent to make that decision for other people's kids.


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