A guide to books we're reading and talking about this year.
Last Updated: Oct 1, 2015
Barbara Jones, Director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has said it well: "While we firmly support the right of every reader to choose or reject a book for themselves or their families, those objecting to a particular book should not be given the power to restrict other readers' right to access and read that book." Libraries across the United States hold this as a fundamental principle, ascribe to the Library Bill of Rights, and actively work against censorship "in fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment." At Everett Community College, we reaffirmed this principle in our Collection Development Policy in 2010. During Banned Books Week (September 27th - October 3rd), take a minute to learn more, pick up a book that makes you nervous, thank a library, and celebrate the freedom to read.
What do you already know about challenged and banned books? Test your knowledge in this 10 question quiz.
The American Library Association defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.." While reviewing the top ten books (out of 311 formally recorded) that were challenged during 2014, keep in mind that the ALA also estimates that there are four to five challenges actually made for every one that is reported.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie's autobiographical novel has been challenged each year since its first publicaiton. It was banned in the Stockton, Missouri school district but retained in the Helena, Montana schools. Challenges include complaints that it is culturally insensitive, sexually explicit, and contains content about drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling and sex education.
Publication Date: 2004-06-01
In this graphic novel, Marji tells of her life in Iran from the age of 10, when the Islamic revolution of 1979 reintroduced a religious state, through the age of 14 when the Iran-Iraq war forced her parents to send her to Europe for safety. The books has been challenged for its reported offensive language, political viewpoint, and graphic depictions.
And Tango Makes Three
Based on a true story about two male penguins who hatch and parent a baby chick at New York's Central Park Zoo, this controversial children's picture book has been on the list several years in a row and cited as anti-family and unsuited for children.
The Bluest Eye
Publication Date: 1993-12-28
This was the first novel by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and centers around 11 year old Pecola Breedlove. It has been challenged as sexually explicit and for containing "controversial issues."
It's Perfectly Normal
This book provides accurate and up-to-date answers to nearly every imaginable question about sex, from conception and puberty to birth control and STDs. Those who challenge the book believe the subject matter and presentation is unsuitable for children.
Publication Date: 2012-10-23
Another graphic novel on this list, Saga is the story of two lovers, narrated by their newborn daughter, and has been called a mesh of space opera and classic fantasy. Challenges to the book cite that it is anti family, contains nudity, offensive language and is sexually explicit.
The Kite Runner
Publication Date: 2013-03-05
Published in 2004, this is the story of an unlikely friendship between and wealthy boy and the son of a family servant, set against the backdrop of modern Afghanistan. It is challenged often for offensive language and violence.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Publication Date: 2012-08-14
This coming of age novel centers around Charlie a freshman in high school who is shy, introspective and intelligent beyond his years. Challenges to the book complain of drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language and that it is sexually explicit.
A Stolen Life
Publication Date: 2012-07-03
Jaycee Dugard shares what has been called a "raw and powerful" memoir of being kidnapped in 1991 and held captive for more than eighteen years. Reasons for challenges include drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, and the sexually explicit content.
Publication Date: 2012-09-01
Middle school student Callie loves the theatre and because she doesn't sing well enough to perform gets involved instead in the backstage drama. The book has been challenged as sexually explicit.