It’s Banned Books Week across the country. Check out any of our CPL locations for a display in recognition of the holiday!
What is Banned Books Week? It’s a week to celebrate the freedom to read. This year it begins Sept. 24 and ends Sept. 30.
Libraries, schools and more use Banned Books Week as an opportunity to spotlight frequently challenged and/or banned books, and speak out about the dangers of censoring. The Office for Intellectual Freedom recorded 323 challenges in 2016. [That’s 48 more than in 2015.] Reasons for challenging (requesting the removal of a book in a library), and then consequently banning (removing the book from a library), change over the years.
Though I would certainly never want a book banned, some challenges surprise me more than others. Here’s a few that did surprise me:
- Every book by John Green is challenged, yearly. Since John Green was the type of person to argue against censorship before he became a best-selling author, the regular challenging of his books is particularly disappointing. Looking for Alaska is his most challenged. It even made it to ALA’s top ten list in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
- Captain Underpants. It’s hard to believe people say this isn’t “appropriate” for its target audience when underwear humor is the main source of quality laughs for most elementary school kids, boys and girls alike.
- Romeo and Juliet. I wrongly believed Shakespeare was untouchable.
- Junie B. Jones. Junie B. is so identifiable for young girls it’s hard to imagine parents objecting to this series. Sometimes I think the only reason people think to challenge a book is that it became popular.
- A Wrinkle in Time. This one is relevant because a movie adaptation is coming out soon. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about this book. I only remember enough to know that everyone read this when I was in elementary school, even though it was a book published in the 60s. It has remained popular with young kids so long that challenging it now makes no sense. Read this review for a more informed opinion of the book.
What books are you surprised to hear were challenged? Find more information at the ALA website.