What do The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Harry Potter have in common? They are all books that have been banned or challenged at libraries and schools in the United States. In fact, it’s likely you have read a few Banned or Challenged Classics.
Beginning in 1982, Banned Books Week (BBW) has been celebrated annually to mark the importance of intellectual freedom, the freedom to read and the First Amendment. Each year the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles and publishes a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books at libraries and schools.
According to the OIF, 460 challenges to materials were reported in 2009. Included in that year’s top 10 challenged books list are Twilight, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chocolate War, and The Color Purple.
Over the past nine years (2001-2009), the OIF reported that American libraries were faced with total of 4,312 challenges, which included:
- 1,413 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material
- 1,125 challenges due to “offensive language”
- 897 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”
- 514 challenges due to “violence”
- 344 challenges due to “homosexuality”
- 109 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family”
- 269 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints”
Thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students, most book challenges are unsuccessful. We hope that during Banned Books Week 2010 you’ll take a moment to think about your freedom to read and consider the role that libraries play in protecting that right!