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  • September 2011
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Mapping Censorship for Banned Books Week

That’s right, it’s the last week of September once again and that means Banned Books Week is upon us. Need a refresher on what Banned Books Week is? Here you go:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

In plain English, we want you to read the books that others ban! As librarians, intellectual freedom is very important to us. When it comes to your reading habits, we believe that you should be free to read whatever you like.

You might not realize it, but books are challenged and banned pretty often. Crazy, right? According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 348 challenges in 2010, and the ALA estimates that 70 to 80 percent are never reported!

BandBooksWeek.org came up with a great map called Mapping Censorship.

“Mapping Censorship” was created by Chris Peterson of the National Coalition Against Censorship and Alita Edelman of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. This map shows the sites of recent challenges (2007-the present), lists what book was challenged, as well as information about the book.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, here’s a list of the ten most challenged books of 2010 (and the reasons they’re most often banned or challenged). Click on the title and order one today!

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2010

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

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

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group

Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint

Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit

Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group

– Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

3 Responses

  1. Two things:
    1.) Note that “religious viewpoint” is only questioned when a topic
    falling outside of mainstream religions is called into question.
    In other words: A book such as, say , the “Bible” would never even
    be questioned, but the very MENTION of an opposing view is
    banned. Ex. Bible? OK. Queran? Questionable.
    2.) “Political Viewpoint”? Clinton has books. Bush has books. Kerry.
    3.) Saved the best for last. “Homosexuality.” Newsflash: some students
    are gay. Most people don’t even discriminate anymore. Now you’re
    banning books based on homosexuality? What kind of message do
    you think you’re sending?

  2. Hi, Michael –

    Thanks so much for your comment; I think you might have misunderstood the point of my post–as librarians we are bigtime advocates for intellectual freedom. Banned Books Week is an anti-censorship celebration where librarians (and other intellectual freedom advocates) encourage people to read books that others ban. It’s our job to support the reading habits of everyone–we do not judge.

    The ten books listed above are the ten most frequently banned/challenged nation-wide. We’re encouraging our teen patrons to read them, not to snub them.

    If you’re interested, please read about the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom – http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/index.cfm

    Corey W, Digital Learning Librarian

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