Banned Books Week

For Banned Books Week—Sept. 27 – Oct 3—the American Library Association released a list of the 10 most frequently challenged books of 2014, citing the reason they’d been ousted.

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by
Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family; cultural insensitivity; drugs/alcohol/smoking; gambling; offensive language; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group; violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling; offensive language; political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive” and “graphic depictions”

3) And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4) The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit; unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5) It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges its child pornography”

6) Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family; nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

7) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language; unsuited to age group; violence

8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking; homosexuality; offensive language; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9) A Stolen Life Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking; offensive language; sexually explicit; and unsuited for age group

10) Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

The 10 were out of more than 300 challenges, as recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Between 2000 and 2010, there were 500 challenges reported to the office.

  • 1,577 for sexually explicit material
  • 1,291 for offensive language
  • 989 for materials deemed unsuited to age group
  • 619 for to violence
  • 361 for to homosexuality

Nearly 300 materials were challenged due to “occult” or “Satanic” themes, and another 300 or so were challenged due to their “religious viewpoint.” More than 100 were cited for being “anti-family.”

In past years, the list of “challenged” books included J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by former US Poet Laureate Maya Angelou. The ALA and writers’ advocacy organizations such as the NWU continue to speak out against censorship.

“Our goal is … to educate the community that censorship is still a very serious problem,” according to the ALA, which added: “Even with all of our efforts to follow up and provide support, surveys indicate that up to 85 percent of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported.”

Dan McCrory is NWU’s recording secretary.