Banned Books Week: Blog Party

It’s Banned Books Week!  Sponsored by the ALA and other groups, this annual event celebrates the “freedom to read.”  Come join in with the Banned Books Blog Party hosted by hannahgivens at Things Matter.


The most frequently challenged books of the past year (2013) were:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

I have actually only read one book on this list: The Hunger Games.  Looking at the list of top challenges from 2000-2009 (which includes my high school years), however, I have read many more.  I have written previously about how #23 The Giver by Lois Lowry affected me when I read it in the 6th grade.  One thing it did for me was open my imagination to worlds of science fiction, a gift I am grateful for today as a writer and scientist.

My Facebook cover image this week.
My Facebook cover image this week. Get yours at

It’s strange to me that anyone would want to put a blanket ban on a book, rather than individually assessing a students’s maturity and reading level, and using a book’s themes and concepts to start an open conversation about difficult ideas.  Exposure to these ideas is part of growing up.

Just last month I read a blog post by author Shannon Hale relating a note from a school librarian whose district wanted to remove Hale’s Books of Bayern series from elementary library shelves.  No one had complained about any of the books.  It seems that the fact that the Bayern series is typically reviewed as being for “Grade 6 and up” was construed by the district to mean that the books were therefore not appropriate for anyone younger.

The Bayern books are wonderful and have no objectionable content.  I would have loved them in upper elementary school.  Rather than limiting students, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to read more advanced books?  The idea that education is one-size-fits-all can’t be beneficial for our children.  It wasn’t for me.  I was lucky that my elementary teachers (and my parents) let me read books from higher grades’ summer reading lists.

Every book may not be appropriate for every child (or adult).  But that decision should be made on an individual basis and should involve the reader as well as his parents and the relevant teacher.  Blanket bans are not the answer.


9 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: Blog Party

  1. hannahgivens September 24, 2014 / 9:40 am

    Reblogged this on Things Matter and commented:
    I love the Bayern books! And they are incredibly intense, specifically the second one, but it sounds like people were able to navigate its appropriateness just fine already without just removing it. Thanks Mei-Mei!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. eclecticalli September 24, 2014 / 11:54 am

    Reblogged this on Eclectic Alli and commented:
    Yes! I have been very challenged by one of the reasons many of the books have been Challenged or Banned being “unsuited for age group.” I read “Little Woman” when I was in elementary school, it had a lasting impact on me and helped solidify my love of reading. What if someone had decided that this book shouldn’t be in a K-6 library? Or the librarian had told little 3rd or 4th grade me that I was too young to read it? What is someone had thought that Beth’s death (so sad…oh so sad), or the references to war, or talk of religion, were not appropriate for me to read? That’s just one of many books I read that were, perhaps “unsuited for my age group,” but were NOT unsuited for me. As is said in this excellent post, “Blanket bans are not the answer.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. starwarsanon September 24, 2014 / 4:53 pm

    Captain Underpants won out over Fifty Shades of Grey?!


    • Mei-Mei September 24, 2014 / 9:46 pm

      Haha I guess potty humor is more inappropriate for children than BDSM?


  4. Big Blogger of Knowledge September 25, 2014 / 4:24 pm

    Oh wow, Captain Underpants. It must have been a decade ago since I was really into that series. *sigh* What a messed up childhood I must have had 😉

    And as bad as Fifty Shades is, even that book doesn’t deserve to be banned. Interesting list, though.


  5. Gene'O September 27, 2014 / 3:38 pm

    Just popping in to pin this post and share a link on Twitter 🙂 I’m doing that for the blog party bloggers today! I like what you say about the assessing of the maturity level, etc. I’ve never understood the blanket bans, either.


    • Mei-Mei September 27, 2014 / 5:49 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and for the share!


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