Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ALA releases Top 10 challenged books in American libraries for 2010

Note that a challenged book is not a "banned book" -- not yet, at least:
A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2010, OIF [the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom] received 348 reports on efforts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.

So think of it this way: To opponents of intellectual freedom, a challenged book is a banned book that simply hasn't exhausted all of its tedious death row appeals yet.

Children's and teen literature were the two genres most commonly challenged  last year (but see #8!). Sexual explicitness (frequently including homosexuality, even if it's non-human: see #1) and violence were among the most-commonly offered reasons for challenge (although see #8 once again, where some challengers were candid enough to mention that they wanted the book removed because of its politics).

But sexism and racism were also cited as reasons to remove a book from circulation. (regular readers are familiar with p3's disdain for this kind of cansorship-of-good-intentions from the left.)

The ten most-frequently challenged books for 2010 (with the reasons offered for the challenge) are:

1. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson (Reasons: Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group)

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Reasons for challenge: Offensive language, Racism, Sex Education, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence)

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Reasons for challenge: Insensitivity, Offensive Language, Racism, Sexually Explicit)

4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Reasons for challenge: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit)

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Reasons for challenge: Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence)

6. Lush by Natasha Friend (Reasons for challenge: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group)

7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones (Reasons for challenge: Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group)

8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Reasons for challenge: Drugs, Inaccurate, Offensive Language, Political Viewpoint, Religious Viewpoint)

9. Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie (Reasons for challenge: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit)

10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Reasons for challenge: Religious Viewpoint, Violence)

Several perennial disfavorites didn't make the top ten last year, including Alice Walker’s The Color Purple; To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. Moral indignation can only spread itself so thin, one supposes.

Think of this as a summer reading list. (Yes, even "Twilight.") And remember: every time you read a banned book, it makes a censor cry.

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