Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thursday Thirteen 302: Banned Books Week 2013

It's Banned Books Week, that time each year when we celebrate our first amendment freedoms of free speech and freedom of the press. I know it's sometimes difficult to believe that people still try to ban books in this advanced age, but hundreds of books in schools and libraries are challenged every year. The primary reasons for objections remain sex, profanity and racism, though there are many other reasons why some people object to a particular book.

Here is the OIF’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books in 2012:

■ Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (offensive language, unsuited for age group)
■ "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," by Sherman Alexie (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
■ "Thirteen Reasons Why," by Jay Asher (drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group)
■ "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E. L. James (offensive language, sexually explicit)
■ "And Tango Makes Three," by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (homosexuality, unsuited for age group)
■ "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit)
■ "Looking for Alaska," by John Green (offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
■ Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz (unsuited for age group, violence)
■ "The Glass Castle," by Jeannette Walls (offensive language, sexually explicit)
■ "Beloved," by Toni Morrison (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence)

While I have not read any of the above mentioned books, here are three books I've read this year that have been banned or challenged:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (adultery; immoral)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (offensive language, contains violence, deals with drugs, alcohol, homosexuality and abuse -- in other words, all the issues teens deal with on a daily basis)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne (adultery; has been called "pornographic and obscene")

Have you read a banned or challenged book recently? Do you have a favorite banned or challenged book?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

OIF Blog


Kimberly Menozzi said...

This is the week which fires me up and depresses me immensely - all at the same time. The people who try to ban these books are so hopelessly out of touch with reality, it's just heartbreaking.

CountryDew said...

Books should never be banned. I have read several of the Top 10. If you ask me, none of those books are any worse than the Bible.

Heather said...

Kimberly: I know how you feel. While I can understand why some parents may be concerned about the content of a book being "too adult" for their oen child, that does not give them the right to say nobody can read it. If you are concerned about what your own child is reading, then a) read the book with them and b) discuss the book's contents with them.

Heather said...

Anita: Agreed, a book should never be banned. As for the Bible...there was an aweful lot of begetting, slaying and adultery in there. Not to mention the "Song of Solomon." ;)

Anonymous said...

It just blows my mind that The Scarlet Letter would be considered obscene. Like the others have said, no book should be banned - EVER. Great post, Heather. Happy Thursday!

Paige Tyler said...

I haven't heard of a lot of those!


My TT is at

Alice Audrey said...

Captain Underpants was my ds's favorite books when he was a kid. We even had a problem when one we checked out from one library got returned to a different one. Ended up having to pay for it. At library rates!

Heather said...

Stephanie: It is a bit mind-blowing, isn't it? I cna't imagine anyone objecting to The Scarlet Letter, but apparently people still take issue with it.

Heather said...

Paige: I have heard of most of these--only a couple in the "top ten" were new to me, and a couple of them are in Mount TBR.

Heather said...

Alice: Umm...wouldn't the library's name be stamped inside it? Why couldn't the "wrong" library return it to either you or the "correct" library? I've never read that series myself, but hear they quite popular with a certain age group.

Jennifer Leeland said...

Wow. I didn't know people challenged Captain Underpants!! I LOVE those books and so did my kids.
I adore "Looking For Alaska".

Anonymous said...

I haven't read too much from this list but I've seen other most banned books lists where I've read 7 out of 10.

Heather said...

Jennifer: Yup, some parents don't like that series of books. Had never heard of Looking for Alaska, but now you have me intrigued.

Heather said...

Angry: I too have seen other lists that contained many books I have read. There was another list posted on the ALA website I almost used. There is a Library of Congress exhibit on "Books that Shaped America," and the ALA has a list of books from that exhibit (LINK) that have been banned or challenged. I've read quite a number from that list, and have many more in Mount TBR.

Shelley Munro said...

Hmm, i've just googled banned books in NZ. I didn't know we had a list, but evidently we do. The books banned relate to weapon manufacture, dog fights, sexual exploitation of children and crime. I don't have a problem with that, although I'm not in favor of censorship.

Heather said...

Shelley: Yes, I happened upon a NZ list the other day, as well as one from the UK. While Banned Books Week is primarily "celebrated" in the US, banning/challenging books occurs is a world-wide.

Alice Audrey said...

The one in Utah claimed they never received it, though my Mother admitted she dropped it off there. They may have treated it as a donation. The one in Montana wouldn't accept the copy we purchased at a store except at a gift.

Heather said...

Ah, well -- if they were in different states, I guess I can understand why the one library did not return it to the one to which it belonged. As for the one in rude that they wouldn't accept a copy you purchased. No doubt they planned to use the inflated funds for something other than to replace the "lost' book.

Alice Audrey said...

I wondered at the time, but they insisted it had to do with regulations.

In the end the book turned up at the correct library, but they didn't offer a refund and we kept our paperback copy.

Heather said...

Interesting that the original book eventually found its way "home." I am sadly not surprised that the library did not give you a refund once the book in question had been returned.