General · reading

Banned Book Week, 2020

It is banned book week once more, a week to celebrate literacy and reading.

I haven’t been keeping track of banned book weeks for the past couple of years and this year I decided to take a look.

This year’s top ten list of banned books from the ALA include:

  1. George by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”
  2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”
  4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author
  6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
    Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students
  9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse
  10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

The list has changed a lot since the last time I looked at it, and I don’t remember when that was. A few years back anyway.

I have heard of only four books: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Of Mice and Men by John Steinback, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

I have read only two: Of Mice and Men by John Steinback and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Of Mice and Men was required reading in school and I remember nothing of it.

It seems George has been on the list for the past few years and I hadn’t even heard of it.

All American Boys has “too much of a sensitive matter right now” as a reason to ban it and I really don’t know what that means. I wonder if that means there will come a time when it is not banned because the matter is no longer sensitive.

reading

Banned Books 2013

Banned books week of 2013 started September 22 and ended September 28. I am posting this a week late. I am very ashamed. But better late than never!

This list comes from the American Library Association website. Last year the top ten challenged books are:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

I think only The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was on last year’s list, too. Last year, it was number five on the list and this year it is number two. It moved up three spots. That’s quite an accomplishment!

The others are all newly challenged! Well, challenged enough to make this year list. I’ve never read any of these stories, so I can’t comment.

I will note 7 out of ten books were challenged because they are sexually explicit. 6 out of 10 books have been challenged because they are “unsuited for age group”. 6 out of 10 were challenged because of “offensive language”.

Also, I never imagined The Kite Runner has homosexuality in it.

I am not surprised someone challenged Fifty Shades of Grey. It was published in 2011 and right at the moment it’s the fourth most challenged book. Maybe next year it will number one. Maybe the other books in the series will make the top ten challenged books, too. It could happen.