Banned Books


Banned Books Week: September 25-October 1, 2016

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The 10 most challenged titles of 2015 were:

  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  • I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  • The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  • Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  • Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  • Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  • Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
  • The list of books banned by American schools and libraries includes many of the classics. Here’s a list of a few favorites. Many are over 50 years old!

    Too Political:

    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852
    • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, 1928
    • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1939
    • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, 1940
    • Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1945
    • Doctor Zhivago by Brosi Pasternak, 1957

    Too Much Sex:

    • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, 1856
    • Ulysses by James Joyce, 1922
    • Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.h. Lawrence, 1928
    • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, 1969
    • Jaws by Peter Benchley, 1974
    • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, 1986

    Too Socially Offensive:

    • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin, 1791
    • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
    • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936
    • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 1947
    • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, 1991
    • Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, 1997-2007
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