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It's Banned Books Week


It's National Banned Books Week — a yearly reminder that, even in this age of information and intellectual freedom, some institutions and individuals still try to have books they dislike banned from schools, libraries, bookstores, or all of the above.

Book-banning has a long history. As Claire Mullally writes in the First Amendment Center Online's research article about banned books, "Book-banning in school libraries is only the latest battleground in a centuries-old war over the censorship of ideas. Secular and religious authorities have censored books for as long as people have been writing them. In 360 B.C., Plato described the ideal Republic: “Our first business will be to supervise the making of fables and legends; rejecting all which are unsatisfactory… ."

The following were the most frequently challenged books in 2002, as compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association:

  1. Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, for its focus on wizardry and magic.
  2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for being sexually explicit, using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (the "Most Challenged" book of 1998), for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, for sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.
  5. Taming the Star Runner, by S.E. Hinton, for offensive language.
  6. Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey, for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, for racism, insensitivity and offensive language.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, for offensive language, sexual content and Occult/Satanism.
  9. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, for insensitivity, racism and offensive language.
  10. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, for sexual content, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.

Related links

  • American Library Association's Banned Books Week page
  • American Civil Liberties Union's Banned Books Week material

  • Related

    Louisiana high school bans coming-of-age novel

    The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks, written in 1965, deemed too sexually explicit after complaints by parents in Alexandria. 05.02.03

    School board votes to keep book on library shelves
    Twin Bridges, Mont., teacher had sought removal of E.R. Frank's America, a novel about a sexually abused boy. 06.16.04

    Celebrating the right to read
    By Melanie Bengtson ALA kicks off its 25th Annual Banned Books Week, honoring works that have been challenged, questioned, burned or banned. 09.25.06

    Banned books

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