I usually keep a better watch on the date so it sneaked up on little cat paws this year. It’s Banned Books Weeks, that week we
mock other people’s attempts to dictate morality celebrate the freedom to read whatever the fuck we want. There’s a list of the most challenged books of the prior year (or decade, or all time), generally via a school board or library. Below are links and lists and opinion and all that rot. Stop here if you want to avoid all that foolishness.
First, the link. The American Library Association maintains a list of the most challenged books by year, by age group, and even keeps a list of challenged classics. I don’t agree with banning a book entirely. Folks are free to read whatever they wish. However, I do see the point in removing certain books from a certain age-group’s school library. Fifty Shades doesn’t belong in an elementary school, for example. Kids need examples of better grammar if nothing else.
Most banned and/or challenged books aren’t examples of books being in the wrong age bracket. Rather, they’re usually the result of adults who want to keep “controversial” topics – such as anything LGBTQ+ positive, sex education, religion, violence – away from impressionable young minds. Their children’s, and others’.
This, I don’t agree with.
Children and opinions both need to be challenged. Children need to be taught to question…everything. They need to learn not to just accept facts, but to poke at them, tear them apart to see what made them tick, unravel them to the bare bones. That’s how you get well-informed adults. Opinions and views should also be challenged. If they’re too flimsy or precious to stand up to a challenge, then perhaps that’s a clue they should be challenged even more.
The ALA lists books for the previous year, so this year’s list of the top ten most challenged/banned books are for 2015. Alongside the books and their authors (and publishers) are the reasons given in the initial complaints. Check them out. No, really go to your local library and check them out. Support Banned Books by reading them as often as you can (or can stomach them).
- 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”).