For almost 20 years, The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has been collecting data on books for children that have drawn formal complaints and requests for removal from public libraries and schools. These books are those that readers, usually parents and teachers, find inappropriate for their target audience.
Last year, the OIF, which is charged with educating librarians and the general public about the importance of intellectual freedom in libraries, received 460 reports of complaints. This number likely represents only about 25% of the complaints that actually occurred, as many go unreported.
The list of challenged books includes lots of familiar titles old and new. Did any of your kid’s favorites make the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009?
- “ttyl,“ “ttfn“ and “l8r, g8r“ - Written entirely in the style of an instant messaging conversation, these three books by Lauren Myracle follow the lives of typical teenagers as they discuss drugs, drinking and sex. Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
- “And Tango Makes Three” – This book by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson is based on the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who, who as couple, cared for an egg together. Reasons: Homosexuality
- “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” – Written by Stephen Chbosky, this book is narrated by an introverted teen who chronicles his experiences in letters to an anonymous person whom he has never met. Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
- “To Kill A Mockingbird” – Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel about racism and integrity in a small town is still drawing complaints after all these years. Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
- “Twilight” – Kids love the teen vampire books by Stephenie Meyer. Parents, not so much. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
- “Catcher in the Rye” – J.D. Salinger’s classic tale of a young man’s experiences after being kicked out of a fancy prep school has been upsetting parents since 1951. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
- “My Sister’s Keeper” – Jodi Picoult’s story about a 13-year-old who sues her parents for medical emancipation may have gotten the Hollywood treatment, but the complaint list is long. Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
- “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things” – Carolyn Mackler writes about an overweight girl’s desperate desire to fit in with her perfect- and skinny – family. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
- “The Color Purple” – The 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winner by Alice Walker looks at the struggles of black women in 1930’s rural Georgia. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
- “The Chocolate War” – First published in 1974, Robert Cormier’s story of a young man challenging the evil secret society at his high school is believed by some to be the best young adult novel of all time. Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
Want to know what other books some people think shouldn’t be read? Check out the American Library Association’s Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009.
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