Thursday, October 04, 2007

American Library Association: 2006 top 10 most challenged books

A couple of days ago I was holding a chat with a good friend, he addressed me to a book I didn't hear about, which I promised to include in some sort of "recommended reading list" to be posted here. Of course, such a list is still being built, and it'll take some more time, but as always, things work their own way to make you feel their importance. The second time I heard about such book was today. And while still keeping in mind that task of building a recommended list, I just have to post this entry, related to censorship, freedom of speech and freedom in general.

Books in America can be banned or challenged, the major difference is that:

 "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. 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 positive message of Banned Books Week: Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection."

The American Library Association keeps extensive information on this issue, along with toolkits for librarians and general public to help keeping freedom of speech and intellectual freedom. Every year they publish the list of most challenged books, which in 2006 were the following:

  • And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;
  • Gossip Girls” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;
  • Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;
  • The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
  • The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
  • Scary Stories” series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;
  • Athletic Shorts” by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language;
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
  • Beloved” by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group; and
  • The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.

Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

Besides the above books, among the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 we can find:

So, here you have a great opportunity to have your kids and teens reading great literature while challenging yourself action groups which may only want children to grow to Bible readings. It's curious that the Bible never once appeared in any challenge, given the amount of violence, incest, sexuality and crime it portrays at least within the Old Testament parts.

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