Banned Books Week

“I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” — Neil Gaiman, in response to his graphic novel series Sandman being challenged

If you’re part of the book world, you probably already know that it’s banned book week. For those of you who aren’t…well, it’s still banned book week. Even in 2013, books are still being challenged. In fact, just yesterday, a North Carolina country reversed their decision on banning Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man at school libraries. The ban was enacted on September 16, 2013, but due to “fierce backlash by hundreds of citizens” the ban was lifted.

The top ten contested books from last year are as follows (list and reasons from

1. “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

3. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

5. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

6. “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

7. “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

8. “Scary Stories” (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

9. “The Glass Castle,” by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

10. “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Confession time! I’ve only read two of the entries on this list: The Kite Runner and the Scary Stories series. Both are absolutely wonderful, albeit for very, very different reasons. Beloved has been sitting in my TBR pile for a while. Perhaps it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. 

I, for one, am in total agreement with Gaiman (quoted at the top of this article). I think that completely banning a title will only cause a demand for it. Not everyone likes or agrees with everything they read. I’ve read plenty of things that didn’t sit well with me, but I don’t go around telling other people that they shouldn’t read it due to my personal views. Reading is about expanding your horizons, not confining yourself or anyone else to a box of set beliefs and mores. 

So what do you think? Should certain books be banned from school/public libraries? Which of last year’s most contested books have you read? Do you agree with the reasons listed for the challenged books? 



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