This week (September 24-30, 2017) is the annual Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and others. The ALA has a department called the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which records “challenges” to books in public schools, libraries, etc. every year. Last year in 2016 there were 323 challenges.
There are many reasons why books are challenged; here’s the list of the ten most frequently challenged books last year, along with why they were challenged.
Several of these are YA books; several are graphic novels. The only book I’ve read is Eleanor & Park, which is a truly wonderful book that really touched me. You can read my thoughts on it here. It was challenged for its “offensive language,” which I honestly don’t remember. Maybe there were some kind of slurs in it? I don’t believe the book portray this language in a positive way, but rather as a realistic part of the sometimes harsh lives of these teenagers. Here’s an interesting article on the challenges to Eleanor & Park, as well as the author’s reaction to them.
Several of these books I can understand may not be appropriate for certain age levels. I always support parents taking an interest in what their kids are reading. However, that does not give someone the right to determine what other parents’ kids are reading, and that is what censorship does. Banning or removing books takes away our freedom to information, our freedom to read what we want.
Have you read any of the top ten banned books? Any other challenged books you are reading? Here’s some more info about book challenges in the US.