Banned Book Week, which typically takes place the last week in September, was created to celebrate the freedom to read and have access to information, even if the topic is unorthodox or unpopular. This annual event draws attention to the harm of censorship and spotlights books that have been targeted for removal in schools or libraries. These books have typically been challenged by concerned parents, but sometimes educators and patrons will challenge books, as well. Books that make the list range from classics most of us studied in high school (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby) and essential reads for many kids (the Harry Potter series, the Goosebumps series) to books that definitely raise a few eyebrows (the Fifty Shades of Grey series).
Why are books banned or challenged?
Complaints are typically about books containing violence, sexually explicit material, offensive language, and religious viewpoints. While many books contain this type of material, books are frequently challenged because they are geared at younger readers and are, therefore, deemed unsuitable for the target audience.
According to the American Library Association, the top ten most most frequently challenged books of the past year are:
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
The Holy Bible
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Check out more banned and challenged book on the American Library Association's website here. Have you read any of the books on the list?
This year, Banned Book Week runs from September 25th through October 1st. Be sure to stop by the library and celebrate your freedom to read!