Saturday, October 3, 2009

Banned Books Week: Won't Somebody Think of the Children?

It may surprise you (or not) that children's books are often challenged and/ or banned. According to the ALA's "Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008," most of books are actually children's books or young adult literature. From picture books like And Tango Makes Three and Uncle Bobby's Wedding to YAL series like Gossip Girl, children's and adolescent literature seem to be lightning rods for controversy. Perhaps it is because parents (who reportedly lodged 56% of book challenges in 2008) become overzealous when trying to protect their kids, or maybe its because we as a society have a knee-jerk reaction of sheer hysteria when it comes to the very idea that something might be corrupting our youth (see Helen Lovejoy's plea above). Or maybe it is because some tend to underestimate children's and teenagers' ability to comprehend and deal with complex ideas.

Whatever the reasons, here is the ALA's top 10 list. Be certain to read some of them and see (or try to figure out) what all of the fuss is about.
  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  • Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group