Every year, the ALA’s (American Library Association) Office of Intellectual Freedom comes up with a list of the previous year’s top ten most banned books. This list is then used to inform the public about censorship in schools and libraries. They keep a running list here of the past top ten most banned books.
Last year, 464 challenges were reported, and guess how many of the top ten books were consider children’s, middle grade or young adult?
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
- And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
- Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence.
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
- Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
- Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
And out of all those books–Captain Underpants was number 1.
I cannot admit that I’ve read all of these book, but now they’re on my list. To read, to teach, and to promote.
I’ve said before that I don’t believe in censorship but I do understand a parent’s wish to not have their child read a book. Heck, when I was a kid my mom didn’t want me to read Goosebumps for certain reasons (I snuck them anyway Sorry mom.) And I’m sure that when I am a parent there will be certain stories I won’t always agree with or want my child to read until they’re a certain age. But just because I feel that way about my child doesn’t mean that other parents feel that same way. And that’s where I think censorship is silly. We can’t take away book from other kids just because we don’t want ours reading them. Thirteen Reasons Why is a HEAVY book and yes it deals with teen suicide–but it might just be the one book that will save someone’s life.
I don’t want to be the person to miss that opportunity. And that’s why I thank the NCTE (National Council for Teacher’s of English) who promote anti-censorship with things like The Student’s Right to Read, and offer rationales for teaching challenged books. You can bet if I’m going to be teaching a challenging title, I will have definite reasons why. It’s just nice have someone else in my corner too.
Book Talk: What about you–did your parent ever have a book they didn’t want you to read? Are you a parent and have a book you don’t want your child to read? Have you read any of these top challenged books?
Hopeful (banned) reading!