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Better Late than Never - Banned Books Week

P&P - Elizabeth - standing in breeze on
Though Banned Books Week has already passed this year, I feel that it is never too late to pay attention to such a serious issue. So, until next fall when it arrives again, here's a brief overview:

ALA's Description/Explanation of Banned Books Week

What is the difference between a challenged book and a banned book? According to the ALA, the answer is:

"A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection."

To learn more about why books are challenged and who does so, go HERE to the ALA's explanation.

Also from ALA, some important general terms and definitions:

  • Expression of Concern. An inquiry that has judgmental overtones.
  • Oral Complaint. An oral challenge to the presence and/or appropriateness of the material in question.
  • Written Complaint. A formal, written complaint filed with the institution (library, school, etc.), challenging the presence and/or appropriateness of specific material.
  • Public Attack. A publicly disseminated statement challenging the value of the material, presented to the media and/or others outside the institutional organization in order to gain public support for further action.
  • Censorship. A change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes.

The Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2009 (According to ALA):

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality
3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Other Lists:
Most Frequently Challenged Author by Year of the 21 Century
100 Most Frequently Challenged Books from 1990-1999
100 Most Frequently Challenged Books from 2000-2009
Banned and Challenged Classics
Reasons Given for Challenging of Classics

Other Important Links:
Essential Preparation
Challenge Support
Reporting a Challenge
Contact Information for First Amendment Supporters
P&P - Elizabeth - standing in breeze on

With our emphasis on paying attention to those books which are being both challenged and banned, I thought that perhaps this could be used to entice teenagers into reading some of the classics that, over the years, have not been so warmly received. A YA librarian could spotlight a banned book once a month, present why it was challenged in the past, and hope to inspire the students to read it, appealing to their naturally curious and rebellious natures. If kids know that there are adults who do not want them to read such works, then I believe they would be more likely to do so. To go with this, below there is a list (of course not complete) of classic works which have been challenged or banned in the past. 

Classic Books That Have Been Challenged or Banned


  • 1984 - George Orwell

  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) - Mark Twain

  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

  • Age of Reason - Thomas Paine

  • All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

  • An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser

  • Andersonville (1955) - MacKinlay Kantor

  • Animal Farm - George Orwell

  • Arabian Nights

  • As I Lay Dying (1932) - William Faulkner

  • The Awakening - Kate Chopin

  • Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

  • Beloved - Toni Morrison

  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

  • Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London

  • Candide – Voltaire

  • Canterbury Tales - Chaucer

  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

  • The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

  • A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

  • The Color Purple - Alice Walker

  • Crucible, The – Arthur Miller

  • Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller

  • The Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

  • Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

  • Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

  • Dracula - Bram Stoker

  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck

  • Émile - Jean Jacques Rousseau

  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

  • Fanny Hill - John Cleland

  • A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

  • Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

  • Gargantua and Pantagruel - François Rabelais

  • Ghosts – Henrik Ibsen

  • Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

  • Go Tell it on the Mountain - James Baldwin

  • Grapes of Wrath (1939) - John Steinbeck

  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Grendel – John Champlin Gardner

  • Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift

  • Hamlet - William Shakespeare

  • Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

  • House of Spirits - Isabel Allende

  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

  • Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde

  • In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

  • Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

  • Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

  • The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

  • King Lear - William Shakespeare

  • Koran

  • Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawrence

  • Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman

  • Les Misérables - Victor Hugo

  • Lolita (1955) - Vladimir Nabokov

  • Lord of the Flies - William Golding

  • The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Lysistrata - Aristophanes

  • Macbeth - William Shakespeare

  • Madame Bovary

  • Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare

  • Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe

  • Monk - Matthew Lewis

  • The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailer

  • Naked Lunch - William S. Burroughs

  • Native Son - Richard Wright

  • Oedipus Rex – Sophocles

  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

  • Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – Ken Kesey

  • On the Road – Jack Kerouac

  • Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli

  • Rabbit, Run - John Updike

  • Salome – Oscar Wilde

  • The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie

  • Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • A Separate Peace - John Knowles

  • Silas Marner – George Eliot

  • Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

  • Sophie's Choice - William Styron

  • Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

  • Sons & Lovers - D.H. Lawrence

  • A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams

  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

  • The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

  • Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller

  • Tropic of Capricorn - Henry Miller

  • Twelfth Night - William Shakespeare

  • Ulysses - James Joyce

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Women in Love - D.H. Lawrence

  • Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

    *** If you can think of others which should be added to this list, please let me know. Thanks!

A New Book Candidate for Banning

P&P - Elizabeth - standing in breeze on
A New Hampshire mother has requested that her daughter's class remove the book The Hunger Games. She claims that it gave her child nightmares and that it could numb other students to the effects of violence, although she has not read it herself. For more information, you can read THE ARTICLE for yourselves.

Personally, I have not read this novel myself either. However, nightmares or not, I would not ask for it to be banned.

So, what do you think? Have you read the book, or are you just as adamantly against censorship as I am, no matter what the reason behind it?


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