CHICAGO – Are books like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," or the Harry
Potter series available at your public or school library? According to the
American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF),
due to book challenges, more than a book a day faces removal from public
access in school and public libraries. Challenges are defined as formal, written
complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed
because of content or appropriateness.
In many cases, it is only through public intervention that books are saved
from confiscation or from being kept under lock and key. This Sept. 27 – Oct.
4, 2008, Americans will celebrate their freedom to read by reading a banned
book during Banned Books Week. This year will mark the 27th annual
celebration of the freedom to read, as thousands of libraries and bookstores
nationwide host exhibits, readings and special events.
For example in Chicago, on September 27, several best-selling authors will
perform readings from banned or challenged books. Participating authors
include Judy Blume, "Forever"; Stephen Chbosky, "The Perks of being a
Wallflower"; Ron Koertge, "The Brimstone Journals"; Newbery Medal winner
and author of "The Giver," Lois Lowry; Lauren Myracle, "TTYL"; Phyllis
Reynolds Naylor, Alice series; and Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, authors
of "And Tango Makes Three," the most challenged book of 2007.
Each year, the OIF receives hundreds of reports on books and other materials
that were "challenged" by people who asked that they be removed from
school or library shelves. There were 420 known attempts to remove books in
2007, and more than 9, 600 attempts since the ALA's OIF began to
electronically compile and publish information on book challenges in 1990.
Unfortunately, it is believed that for every challenge or banning reported to
OIF, there are four to five incidents not reported.
"Banned Books Week is an opportunity for the ALA to educate librarians and
the general public about the importance of intellectual freedom," said (ALA)
President Jim Rettig. "Individuals must have the freedom to choose what
materials are suitable for themselves and their families."
Most book challenges reported to OIF have been reported from schools (71
percent) and public libraries (24 percent). Parents lodged sixty-one percent
of the book challenges, followed by library patrons at 15 percent and
administrators at 9 percent.
"We must remain vigilant to assure that would-be censors do not threaten
the very basis of our democracy – the freedom to choose," said Judith F.
Krug, director, OIF. "Since our society is so diverse, libraries and bookstores
have a responsibility to provide materials that reflect the interests of all of
The "10 Most Challenged Books of 2007" reflect a range of themes, and
consist of the following titles:
·"And Tango Makes Three," by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious
Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
·"The Chocolate War," by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
·"Olive's Ocean," by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language
·"The Golden Compass," by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint
·"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain
·"The Color Purple," by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,
·"TTYL," by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
·"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit
·"It's Perfectly Normal," by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit
·"The Perks of Being A Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to
Off the list this year are two books by author Toni Morrison "The Bluest Eye"
and "Beloved," both challenged for sexual content and offensive language.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association,
the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the
Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and
Authors, and the National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by
the Library of Congress Center for the Book.