Did you know that Sept. 21 - 27, 2014 is Banned Books Week?
Indeed, we are in the midst of an annual celebration of titles deemed too subversive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate to be stocked across America's educational institutions, including libraries and schools.
What exactly is Banned Books Week, and why did it originate? According to the event's website:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.
The event is intended to draw "national attention to the harms of censorship" by "focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books," consisting of virtual and in-person activities across the country.
This year, as reported in Reason, the focus of the celebration is on comic books.
Given that we are in the midst of Banned Books Week, we thought it apropos to pass along the 10 most challenged titles from 2013 across libraries and schools, including the reasons cited for such challenges, according to the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Note that these rankings are based on data gleaned from newspapers and reports submitted by individuals (more on how the data is compiled here), and that the printing of this list does not represent an endorsement of said titles.
1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence