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Current Banned Books Report

Challenges to Books for Kids, Teens and Adults


Celebrate the Freedom to Read - Banned Books Week Poster

Banned Books Week

American Library Association
What's the state of censorship, challenged and banned children's books and books for teens in the twenty-first century? There have been some changes in the last few years. For example, for several years the Harry Potter series was vigorously challenged. By the 2005 Banned Books Week report, the American Library Association (ALA) announced, "This year marks the first in five in which the Harry Potter series does not top or appear on the ALA's annual list of the top 10 most challenged books." (For more, see The Harry Potter Controversy).

According to Article 3 of the Library Bill of Rights, “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” (Source: ALA Library Bill of Rights)

As far as numbers of challenges, according to the American Library Association, while there are several hundred challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year and there were at least 326 in 2011 and 464 in 2012, the ALA estimates that 75 to 80 percent are never reported. (Source: ALA: Frequently challenged books of the 21st century)

    “Even though not every book will be right for every reader, the ability to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely are core American values,” said Barbara Jones, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Protecting one of our most fundamental rights – the freedom to read – means respecting each other’s differences and the right of all people to choose for themselves what they and their families read.” (April 14, 2010 ALA News Release)

The 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2012

According to the American Library Association (ALA), the following books are the 10 Most Challenged Books of 2012. After the title and author of each book are the reasons cited for the challenges:
  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence
(Source: ALA: Frequently Challenged Books: 2012)

One of the best ways to see how thing have and have not changed over time is to compare and contrast the above list with the list below.

The 100 Most Challenged Books of the Decade (2000-2009)

  1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
  5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
  9. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
  10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (See the ALA Web site for the entire list.)

See All About Book Banning and Children's Books for more of my articles about the subject.

In addition to the excellent resources on the detailed ALA Banned Books Week site, check out the following:

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