Banned Books Week

Banning books seems like a dated concept. It seems like something that happened in the past but couldn’t possibly continue in our modern society. It seems like in 2016 I should be able to say, “I’m so glad we don’t ban books anymore.”

But according to the Banned Books Coalition, censorship is still a very real problem. That’s why librarians, booksellers, authors, publishers, readers and others concerned with intellectual freedom instituted Banned Books Week in 1982. This year’s weeklong event is from September 25 – October 1 and centers around the theme of celebrating diversity.


I spotted a display of challenged books at a local library and picked up two. I finished Beloved by Toni Morrison last week and have just begun reading Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going.

Here is the list of the ten most challenged books in 2015 as compiled by the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

You can find a list of frequently challenged books here. Which one of them is your favorite?



11 thoughts on “Banned Books Week

  1. Banning a book just makes me want to read it. The act of banning, itself, seems counter-productive. Isn’t the reader intelligent enough to realize they have the right to stop reading a book they find offensive? It’s interesting that The Holy Bible is on the list when other religious texts are not, they must not have been as offensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Looking for Alaska. I had a student (8th grade) a few years ago who really related to Alaska, and I think pretending characters like Alaska don’t exist just serves to isolate the people who aren’t “typical.” It was so important to me as a teen to read about teens who were struggling with mental illness or going through a devastating terminal disease or were victims of crimes, because they reflect REAL LIFE. I really do think that diverse books with diverse characters of all kinds — race, sexual orientation, mental illness, etc. serve to grow empathy. I didn’t see it on the list, but I loved This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Niejkamp, which I’m sure is being banned somewhere where minds are small. It’s a school shooting book, but the characters are very real and represent many marginalized groups but it wasn’t heavy handed — they were just REAL PEOPLE in a tragic situation. Amazing. Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The first part of your post says it perfectly. Is this really what we’re still doing in 2016?

    The twins were astonished to see their favourite book from childhood on the banned books table: And Tango Makes Three. We had to stop and look at it even though we still have it on the bookshelf at home. It’s a beautiful thing that they couldn’t fathom why someone would ban a book about penguins. That the only remarkable thing in the whole book is the fact that they’re birds.


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