This week we celebrate Banned Books Week. This event, started by the American Library Association (ALA), celebrates the freedom to read. On their website (also linked at the end of the article), they share that Banned Books Week is intended to draw attention to the negative impacts of censorship.
About Banned Books Week
Each year, the ALA compiles a list of the 10 most challenged books, reported by librarians around the United States. Challenges can be made by patrons of any library. A challenge is often an attempt to have materials removed or restricted based on personal views. Most of the time, libraries have procedures on how to deal with challenges, and books can end up banned. Banning books restricts patrons access, making banning books, a threat to freedom, speech and choice.
The books featured below and on our display in the McGraw-Page Library have been challenged and in some cases banned from libraries. You’ll recognize some of the titles below, many have been made into popular movies. Below we’ve included a brief summary, the reason for the book being challenged or banned and where you can locate the book in our library. The ALA’s 2017 campaign slogan is “words have power, read a banned book!” The staff of the McGraw-Page Library invites you to check out our selection of challenged books near the Information Desk.
Banned Books in the McGraw-Page Collection
Looking for Alaska
by John Green
Top 10 List: Multiple years
Challenge Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit scene that may lead to “sexual experimentation” and unsuited for age group
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.
Catalog Link – Looking for Alaska
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Top 10 List: #1 in 2014
Challenge Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence and depictions of bullying
Summary: Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
Catalog Link – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Craig Thompson
Top 10 List: #8 in 2015
Challenge Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
Summary: Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth– and frailty– of their connection. At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.
Catalog Link – Habibi
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Top 10 List: 2014
Challenge Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group
Summary: Since its publication in 2003, The Kite Runner has shipped over four million copies and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy through the horrific rule of the Taliban, The Kite Runner is the heartbreaking story of the unlikely and inseparable friendship between a wealthy Afghan boy and the son of his father’s servant, both of whom are caught in the tragic sweep of history. Published in the aftermath of America’s invasion of Afghanistan, Khaled Hosseini’s haunting writing brought a part of the world to vivid life that was previously unknown.
Catalog Link – The Kite Runner
by Marjane Satrapi
Top 10 List: 2014
Challenge Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, politically, racially and socially offensive, and graphic depictions
Summary: Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Catalog Link – Persepolis
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Top 10 List: 2010, 2011 and 2013
Challenge Reasons: religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, sexually explicit, offensive language, occult/satanic and violence
Summary: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.
Catalog Link – The Hunger Games
by J. K. Rowling
Top 10 List: #1 2001 & 2002
Challenge Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
Summary: Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches.
Catalog Link – Harry Potter
Other well-known books that have been banned include: The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher), The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain), and many, many more.