This week is Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual celebration of banned and challenged books. The Office of Intellectual Freedom keeps track of all reports of challenges against books in public libraries, school libraries, school assignments, and all other reported attempts at removing books from public use.
Over the years, they have compiled two lists by decade: the top 100 books from 1990-1999 list and the 2000-2009 list, as well as the Top 10 by year lists. Now, if you’re wondering what could people possibly want to ban, the answer is a lot. From classics like Huckleberry Finn to popular children’s series like Junie B. Jones to popular YA books and even adult books. The reasons cited include: drug and alcohol use, sexual content (this can mean anything from an innocent kiss to full on sex and even mentioning sex), profanity/foul language (again, this can be one instance of shit or damn to strings of curses), religious/political viewpoint, the encompassing “inappropriate to age group” (what does that even mean?), and a host of other random reasons. Of course, some of these are commonly read in school. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Beloved, and The Color Purple. They even include international titles like The Kite Runner and The House of the Spirits.
Some of my favorites include: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (#10), The Face on the Milk Carton (#29), Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging (#35), Whale Talk (#41), The Handmaid’s Tale (#88), and Julie of the Wolves (#91). Of course the most ironic is Fahrenheit 451 (#69), a book about the banning and burning of books is on the list.
The number one banned book for the last decade is not an individual book at all, but a series, and a very popular one at that. This series is overwhelmingly banned for drug use, lack of family values (seriously?), promoting wicca/the occult, promoting lying, rule breaking, and disrespect for authority, it’s “evil”, teaches witchcraft, and violence. The fact that it encouraged millions of children worldwide to read is moot to those that hate it. Does anyone want to take a guess at what series it is? Anyone? Bueller? No? It’s Harry Potter. That’s right, Harry and his friends are equally hated and loved.
So what are some of your favorite Banned Books?