Banned Books Week
September 25−October 2, 2010
This is Banned Books Week (BBW), an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, from Saturday to Saturday, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
The following bibliography represents the top ten books challenged, restricted, removed, or banned in 2009, out of 460 challenges, as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.
- ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The series focuses on friendship throughout High School. Its main characters are Maddie (Madigan) Kinnick (screen name madmaddie), Zoe Barrett (zoegirl), and Angela Silver (SnowAngel).
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin RichardsonReasons: homosexuality
The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book follows part of this time in the penguins’ lives. The pair were observed trying to hatch a rock that resembled an egg. When zookeepers realized that Roy and Silo were both male, it occurred to them to give them an egg to hatch. A second egg was obtained from a male-female penguin couple which had previously been unable to successfully hatch two eggs at once. Roy and Silo hatched and raised the healthy young chick, a female named “Tango” by keepers, together as a family.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen ChboskyReasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
The story explores topics such as introversion, teenage sexuality, abuse, and the awkward times of adolescence through the eyes of an autistic boy who calls himself “Charlie,” a self-proclaimed “wallflower.” The book also touches strongly on drug use and Charlie’s experiences with it. As the story progresses, various works of literature and film are referenced and their meanings discussed.
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper LeeReasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
Taking place during the Great Depression and narrated by six-year-old Scout Finch who lives with her brother Jem and their father, Atticus, the story revolves around the trial of a black man, Tom Robinson. Atticus agrees to represent Tom, who is charged with the rape of a white woman, against the wishes of the community.
- Twilight (series) by Stephenie MeyerReasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Twilight is a series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance novels. It charts a period in the life of Isabella “Bella” Swan, a teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
- Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. SalingerReasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The story is about a school boy, Holden, and the three days he spends in the city, characterized largely by drunkenness, loneliness and getting beat up by a pimp.
- My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi PicoultReasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
Anna was conceived in order to harvest blood from her umbilical cord to use in treatments to help save her sister, who is suffering from acute leukemia. Throughout her life, Anna was used as a donor for any other bodily substance needed to treat Kate, who continues to swing between remission and relapse. When Anna is told that she needs to give up one of her kidneys, she sues her parents.
- The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn MacklerReasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Virginia Shreves is a self-conscious sophomore who believes she is fat thanks to the constant prodding of her parents. She eventually sees the value in herself as a person. She realizes that who she is on the inside is much more important than external appearances. The book’s main idea is you need to be happy with yourself as a person and don’t need to change for anybody but only for yourself. The book also touches upon issues of trust, friendship, love and rebellion.
- The Color Purple, by Alice WalkerReasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The story is told in the form of diary entries and letters. Celie is a poor uneducated young black woman in 1909 Georgia who, at fourteen, is raped and impregnated twice by a man she calls Pa. The story is about Celie’s struggles with relationships, racism and sexism in a pursuit to be reunited with her two children.
- The Chocolate War, by Robert CormierReasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Set at the fictional Trinity High School, the story follows protagonist Jerry Renault as he challenges the school’s cruel, brutal, and ugly mob rule.
W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian