Words Have Power: Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week 2017 Official Words Have Power Twitter Image

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.

Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016 GIF

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.

14 thoughts on “Words Have Power: Banned Books Week

  1. kwenzqoatl September 27, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    I never understood this whole banning thing. Shouldn’t it be up to the parents to gauge their own children’s maturity levels? That way they can decide what is and isn’t ok for their kids. Why the need to ban it for everyone else’s kids too? Because no two kids are the same. Plus we all now that kids will find these banned things one way or another. So instead I say what’s more important than banning these things is to have open discussions about them instead.

    Liked by 3 people

    • PurplePumpernickel October 3, 2017 / 6:34 am

      I hear you & applaud you!
      I can only surmise (as I’ve wondered the same thing myself for years) that there is a belief that parents are not the best arbiters for their children. Or perhaps some parents would prefer to pass on that responsibility to someone else. But I agree that banning should not be the answer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. saraletourneau September 28, 2017 / 11:27 am

    I second what Kwen said. The other argument I’d add is that, if literature is meant to reflect real life, why not incorporate aspects of real life – including mature content – into a story? Besides, there are teens who are questioning or exploring their sexuality and possibly engaging in some of the things those stories feature. So for those kids, these books could mean the world to them.

    I’m not sure if I went off-topic or got a little preachy there, but it was meant to be a tangent off of what Kwen had said. Not all children may have the maturity level to handle such topics, but that shouldn’t prevent all children in general from reading them. It’s more important to have discussions about books like these in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei October 1, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      Yes, I can understand the urge to shelter kids, but in the end, isn’t it better to let them read some of the “tough stuff” with some guidance and discussion? Many of these challenged books have helped people, including myself, grow and learn.

      Liked by 1 person

      • saraletourneau October 2, 2017 / 9:50 am

        Same here. I learned so much from the books I read when I was younger – both challenged books and ones that weren’t. And I’m glad I had teachers who took that route and had us read books that were considered controversial when I was in school, like Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm. I think both are still challenged now, though maybe not as frequently as more recent novels…?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. PurplePumpernickel October 3, 2017 / 6:38 am

    You know, I read Eleanor & Park as well, and I really don’t recall any language that made me cringe, even in the context of of my children reading it. When you first mentioned it, I actually thought is might be because they are from different cultures. Shouldn’t open this can of worms, right?

    In the interest of age-appropriate reading, guidelines should certainly be issued. I wonder, though, if teachers & parents should be the ones making that decision together as they will be the ones discussing the book with the child.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei October 4, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      That’s a great point about parents and teachers working together. I don’t have kids yet, but I think it’s a great thing to see it as a team effort in guiding the child. Both are doing the “hands-on” work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • PurplePumpernickel October 7, 2017 / 10:39 pm

        I think once kids go off to school, some parents relinquish all education to the school and teachers, maybe out of necessity, maybe out of expectation. Somewhat a scary thought. But I homeschooled my kids, so I am somewhat biased in this area.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Marcia Strykowski October 5, 2017 / 5:36 pm

    Eleanor & Park is the only one I’ve read from this list, too. I’ve heard more than one author say they’d love to have their book banned, as it can be quite an attention getter, which in turn leads to more sales. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei October 5, 2017 / 11:28 pm

      That’s interesting, but I can definitely see it! It would make a great platform to promote your book while defending it.

      Liked by 1 person

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