Once again, it’s time for a new display in the Teen Scene to highlight a new set of books. And because September is when the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week (September 21-27), this month’s display is showcasing some of the books that have been challenged and banned over the years.
The American Library Association and libraries all over the country are defenders of First Amendment free speech rights. This means that while everyone can probably find something in the library that offends them, it all stays on the shelves so that readers can make their own judgments. We don’t defend or condemn content, we just make sure that everyone has access to books and information and can make their own decisions. Banned Books week is a time when the American Library Association, libraries, and booksellers can celebrate their commitment to the First Amendment and access to information.
Books are challenged and banned for a variety of reasons. According to the American Library Association, here are some books that have been challenged or banned by schools and other organizations in the United States, and the reasons these books have been challenged:
- The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – Most challenged book(s) in 2001 and 2002, on the basis of anti-family content, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence.
- The Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey– Most challenged books(s) in 2012 and 2013, on the basis of Offensive language, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Challenged on the basis of offensive language.
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Challenged on the basis of occult/Satanism, offensive language, and violence.
- The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer – Challenged on the basis of religious viewpoint, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.
- The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins – Challenged on the basis of sexual content, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Challenged on the basis of offensive language and racism.
- The TTYL Series by Lauren Myracle – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, racism, unsuitability for age group, and violence.
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – Challenged on the basis of offensive language, sexual content, and unsuitability for age group.
This is just a small sample of books that have been challenged or banned since 2001, according to the American Library Association. The thing about banned or challenged books is that, in many cases, reading those books is not the right choice for a child, a teenager, or a family. But fortunately, we live in a country where families are trusted to make their own decisions about what suitable reading material is, and a country where all these books stay on the shelves of public libraries so anyone can read them.
So this month, pick up a banned or challenged book (discuss it with a parent or librarian if you’re concerned about content), remember that libraries are here to provide access to information for everyone, and decide for yourself what you think of these banned books.