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Seriously, America? Most Challenged Books of The 21st Century

By Monica Bielanko |


Yup. This is on the list too.

Believe it or not, more than fifty years after it was first published and the era that ushered in the Civil Rights Movement, To Kill A Mockingbird is still among the top ten books banned or censored in libraries.

People, mostly parents, have apparently asked for the book to be removed because it’s full of racism and bad language. Similar requests have been made about Mark Twain’s great Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

If we continue to ban material that “might” be deemed offensive to “anyone” then it won’t be long before we raise a generation that is completely ignorant.

I find it fascinating that the book banners are, generally speaking, from the same ilk as the folk constantly screaming about their freedom of speech or their right to bear arms. There is no reason to ban any book. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you don’t want your children reading it for any reason, don’t let them read it. Also? Good luck with that. Make sure you tell them exactly which books you don’t want them to read, that’s always a good tactic.

Another thought on the racism in To Kill A Mockingbird: we put dozens of “classic” books in front of children every day that describe the terrible conditions of women in the past and no one talks about banning them. Is there a difference between literature that exposes racial hatred versus misogyny?

Something to think about.

Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools.

According to,  “a challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.”

Here are the top ten books that made the list of most challenged books from 2000-2011:

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Most Banned Books

ttyl (series) by Lauren Myracle

This young adult series is a repeat offender. People requested the books be removed from the library due to the following reasons: nudity, sexually explicit material, offensive language, being unsuited to the target age group, and drugs. Or, in other words, as reports, "it reads just like any supermarket tabloid or WB television show."

See also: 25 Must-Read Books For Kids

More From Monica on Strollerderby:

Dispatches From the Parent ‘Hood: Top Tweets ‘O’ The Week

Why I Hate Barbie: See Her Proportions On A Real Woman (Photo)

6 Questions Every Parent Should Ask Themselves

You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.


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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “Seriously, America? Most Challenged Books of The 21st Century

  1. DeathMetalMommy says:

    I agree completely. I can’t count the number of eye rolls I give when I hear some self-righteous mother condemning a book that she deems unfit, therefore everyone must agree. Y’know instead of discouraging kids from reading, perhaps you could talk to them about what they’re reading and why you feel that it is wrong. But that would involve talking to your child and not telling others what is morally wrong. So never mind. Harry Potter, really? Tell them it’s FICTION. Then tell them what that means.

  2. Ami says:

    Banning books makes me livid. An over zealous parents discovers that they cannot control every aspect of their children’s lives, so they then seek to destroy anything that makes them uncomfortable.
    I’m all for setting limits or saying to my kids “Maybe you should put off reading that book until next year because I’m concerned about _____ and _____.” But to deny other parents their rights to decide for their own families is ridiculous. I would never presume to decide for the entire population what is suitable to read or not.

  3. goddess says:

    The only book I’ve told my 13 yr old I’d rather her not read so far is the 5o Shades series (she thinks that’s gross and scandalous anyways= and by the time she doesn’t, I’d rather know she was reading it so I could talk over some of the themes in it)
    I’m not into book censorship. I remember how I got hold of the books I wanted that my own Mom banned when I was 13, LOL.

  4. DeathMetalMommy says:

    The best way to make sure it’s read is to ban it.

  5. bwsf says:

    At some point, these busybodies that go around banning books have got to realize that banning a book does nothing but make it more desirable to read. And also, just because you feel like there’s something you need to shield your child from (like an accurate portrayal of pregnancy), that doesn’t mean that we all feel like that. And I’d like my kid to have access to books like that, thank you very much. I remember reading a list a while ago, maybe even a decade ago, of banned books and there were 5 or 6 of them on there that were books for teaching kids about sex or teaching kids about pregnancy. For God’s sakes, these books were written to help parents who are mature enough to present these topics to their children, and those who are too immature to deal with it can just leave the books on the shelves. PLEASE spare us your Victorian hush-hush attitude about human sexual biology!

  6. Amanda says:

    I feel that instead of banning perhaps have a strict rating system just like you would with movies or television. If I don’t want my daughter to learn about certain things from a book when she is 12, then she is NOT going to be reading it. Just like you would screen a movie or television show (I would hope), you have the right to screen what your child is reading. At this day in age, there is too much exposure of certain things. Parents should have a say in what their children read and learn about especially in a school setting. I am sure I am getting many eye rolls as you read this post, but there are certain things a parent should to to protect their child even if it makes me look like an over protective unreasonable ogre. As for the list, the classics, shouldn’t be banned, but we shouldn’t judge other parents for not wanting their child exposed to that content.

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