Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. This year, Banned Book Week runs from September 27 to October 3, 2020.
Books are still being banned and challenged today. (For clarity: a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.)
While books have been and will continue to be banned, one of my favorite parts of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, most of the time, the books remain available. This is due to the herculean efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and general readers who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read!
I’m always shocked when I look at the lists of banned books. Did you know that at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the targets of ban attempts? The American Library Association has curated lists of the 100 most challenged books by decade. Check it out – I’m sure you’ll find some surprising choices in the lists:
My top 10 favorite banned books:
*Clicking on the images of any of the books below will take you directly to their page on Amazon.*
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Stark, thought provoking, and scary – a mix of satire and and suspense, and unputdownable. (Especially once you realize that many situations in this book are based on things that have already occurred somewhere on this planet at one point in time or another.)
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Powerful, timely, emotional – a must read.
Reasons: banned and challenged because it was deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references
The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This was a powerful read, and I think only narrow minded people worry about it promoting Islam.
This multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
A heartbreaking and hilarious coming of age story.
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult always writes books that challenge and question, and this was no different. I feel like I need to reread it because some of these reasons for banning are not clicking at all.
Reasons for banning: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
Weird and trippy, there’s always been something that delights me about this picture book (including wondering just what Maurice was thinking…)
Reasons for banning: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
This is such a classic, and such a powerful tale, I just can’t even with folks.
Reason for banning: offensive language
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
This coming of age story is beautiful and heartbreaking. Another I need to reread because I clearly missed the Satanism in this book.
Reasons for banning: occult/Satanism, offensive language
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
Seriously, what girl in the 80s didn’t read this, and probably a secret copy passed around from the girl with the “cool” mom. For a lot of us, it was a first real talk about menstruation (gasp).
Reasons for banning: religious views/blasphemy, age-inappropriate, sexual content
Last, but not least, and slightly ironic:
The Holy Bible
Reasons for banning: religious viewpoint
These were the top 10 most challenged books of 2019:
For more information on Banned Books Week, check out http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned for lists of banned books, information on how to get involved, free downloads for use on social media, and maybe even pick up a pair of banned books socks!
Do you have any favorite books that have made the banned books list?
If you do, please share them in the comments!