The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. The Holy Bible. This seemingly different list of books have one thing in common – all were banned or challenged in the United States for a variety of reasons.
Each year, hundreds of books are challenged in schools and libraries, with concerns ranging from religious viewpoints to profanity to LGBTQIA+ content. When the challenge results in the removal of the book from an institution, whether from the library’s shelves or the school’s curriculum, the book is considered a banned book. In 2018 alone, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom noted 483 books were challenged or banned.
A few additional titles on this list include:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – challenged in 2016 as a summer reading assignment at a Tennessee high school for its graphic information.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – banned from classrooms in Michigan in 2009 for unacceptable content for middle school students. This also was challenged and banned throughout the country in 2010 for its content.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – since the Office for Intellectual Freedom began documenting challenged and banned cases, this book has been challenged and/or banned many times over the years in school due to its content. One complaint in 1983 described the book as too depressing for students to read.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – in 2014, challenged in a school district in Texas for its content.
In 1982, the American Library Association began Banned Books Week, set to take place the end of September, to recognize the value of free information and ideas for everyone. It celebrates the diversity of books and the freedom to read whatever one wishes to read. It showcases the issues with censorship and preventing someone from reading a particular book.
This year, Banned Books Week will take place September 22 – September 28. The theme is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark; Keep the Light On!” In conjunction with the announcement of this year’s theme, the Office for Intellectual Freedom also published the top 11 challenged/banned books for 2018, which include: George by Alex Gino; A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss; the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki; the Skippyjon Jones series by Judy Schachner; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; This Day in June by Gayle E Pitman; and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
To learn more about this year’s theme, check out the official website bannedbooksweek.org . Download infographics with title lists from the past decade. View ways to get involved in the campaign to end censorship. But, most importantly, stop by any Adams County Library System location and check out a banned book this September!
Submitted by Jessica Laganosky, Public Services Librarian