What is Banned Book Week?
It is the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. One way that libraries and bookstores observe Banned Book Week is by highlighting challenged material.
What exactly are we talking about when we talk about challenged books?
According to the American Library Association page on challenged materials, a "challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."
The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom regularly releases lists of the most frequently challenged books. 2013 is still in full swing, but if you've ever wanted to read a challenged book, then here's a list of 2012's most often challenged books. Maybe you have been reading challenged books all along without even knowing it.
In this area, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series ranked number 1. This series has been challenged for having "offensive language" and for being regarded by the challenger as "unsuited to age group." 2012 isn't the first year the series has appeared on the list; it gained this distinction in 2002, 2004 and in 2005.
According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, and many more go unreported.
Other top challenged books and the reasons for the challenge (from the perspective of the challenger) in 2012 were:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group.
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group.
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit.
Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz. Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence.
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit.
Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence.