Happy Banned Books Week! Sept. 26-Oct. 3, 2009

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The American Library Association, through their Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), gathers statistics on books which have been challenged in various jurisdictions. In 2008, 513 challenges were reported to the OIF. The top 10 most challenged books of 2008?

  1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
    The book is based on the true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. They formed a coupling and were given an abandoned egg to raise.

    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group

  2. “His Dark Materials” (trilogy), by Philip Pullman
    This book follows the coming-of-age of two children as they wander through a series of parallel universes against a backdrop of epic events.

    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint and violence

  3. “TTYL;” “TTFN;” “L8R, G8R” (series), by Lauren Myracle
    This book follows three best friends throughout their high school careers. The books are told entirely in instant messages.

    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

  4. “Scary Stories” (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    The title sums it up! Just toss in some gruesome, nightmarish illustrations.

    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint and violence

  5. “Bless Me, Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya
    This stort is about a Mexican boy who is torn between the Native American religion and Catholocism. All this is set upon the backdrop of World War II.

    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit and violence

  6. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
    This story is narrated by a teenager who describes various scenes in his life in letters written to an annonymous person. It takes place during his freshman year of high school.

    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide and unsuited to age group

  7. “Gossip Girl” (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Narrated by the omniscient yet unseen blogger “Gossip Girl,” the series revolves around the lives and romances of the privileged teenagers at an elite school for girls. The story follows the characters through their high school lives up through their graduation and moving on to college.

    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

  8. “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen
    Two male guinea pigs get married.

    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

  9. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini
    The story of a young Afghan boy and his struggles through the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban.

    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

  10. “Flashcards of My Life,” by Charise Mericle Harper
    A young girls recieves flash cards as a present, which are meant to be filled out according to their topic (e.g., Friends, Kiss, Identity). This book is what is on those flashcards.

    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

There are a ton of books out there which have been banned, many of which we now consider “classics.” Take a look around and see what you find. Which do you find to be the strangest? Let me know!

Blake Wilson

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