Banned Books Week
Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 26–October 3, 2009
The most frequently challenged books of 2008
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
Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.
BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
BBW is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
Although they were the targets of attempted bannings, most of the books featured during BBW were not banned, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in their collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.
Why are books challenged?
Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information.
Who challenges books?
Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs.
What's the difference between a challenge and a banning?
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.
Frequently Challenged Books
What was the most challenged book in the past year? What are the most challenged books of the 21st century? Who are the most frequently challenged authors? Where can I go to find more information on why a book was challenged or banned?