Banned Book Week’s 30th Birthday

It’s the season pumpkins and apples, Octoberfests and harvests,  bonfires and hayrides.  And it’s Banned Book Week.

What’s more, it’s the  American Library Association’s 30th Anniversary of celebrating not so much the freedom to read as the  perils of censorship.

There’s a 50 State Salute and a Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. There are posters and bookmarks; t-shirts and coffee mugs.

Thirty years of recognizing that despite the First Amendment, we violate it daily by banning books considered objectionable for a multitude of reasons.

Last year, there were 326 challenges reported by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Here’s their list of the top ten books:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle. Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa. Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. 
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler. 
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. 
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit  

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones. Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar. Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Reasons: offensive language; racism

Wouldn’t a great 31st Anniversary celebration be one that celebrates the freedom to read and doesn’t need to  list challenged books?

I wrote about censorship here.

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12 Responses to Banned Book Week’s 30th Birthday

  1. Jan Simson says:

    The Hunger Games? Wow, that’s actually kinda surprising. I mean, kids killing kids isn’t something I’d encourage, but the trilogy is an absolutely fantastic story.


  2. Patti Winker says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this information, and for sharing your list. I find it bizarre how books can go from banned to required reading in a person’s lifetime. Wait. Maybe bizarre isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s more like hopeful. It makes me feel hopeful when I see that happen. So, maybe not by the 31st anniversary… but someday? Thanks again.


  3. The funny thing is that the mere act of banning something makes it more desired. 😉


  4. Northern Narratives says:

    Hard to believe it has been 30 years!


  5. It is so amazing to live in a country like this and still see that books are censored. Here is to next year. Thanks for this list.


  6. I wonder at the sense of a board of people deciding what is right or wrong for others. Freedom of choice of reading material should be a given considering what else in the world and in our own backyards needs attention. Geeeeesh! (sp. shoot me 😉 )


  7. I knew about some of these ones but not all. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do!


  8. The Color of Lila says:

    It’s really interesting to compare the titles to the “reasons” for banning or restricting them. The Hunger Games tells a story of a dystopian future, hello? The author is not advocating the bad things that happen to the characters and their families; she sets the situation up to make the reader think about the VALUE of family, freedom, equality, etc. And, um… where was the racism, occult, satanic anything? I missed that. Do these book-banners actually know how to read? The comprehension seems a little lacking here.

    My Mom’s Having a Baby – Heaven forbid that we teach kids about biology, sex and reproduction, because knowledge is a bad, bad thing. Let them think the stork brought them, until they turn 21 and then maybe we’ll sit them down for The Talk, but of course we won’t give them any details until right before their wedding.

    It makes me ill. I have been reading voraciously since age 2 or 3. Read the Hite Report and Forbidden Flowers at age 14. Found the Hite Report interesting, but thought Forbidden Flowers was sort of stupid. Neither book caused me to rush out and lose my virginity.


    • Thank you for your thoughful comments. Yes.. makes no sense! Isn’t that the basic problem with extremism? Most book banners/challenges are based on a few sentences- few ever read the books. But generally, if a book is banned by a school, everyone then wants to read it!


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