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A Round Up of Books Challenged or Banned in 2013

2013 December 20
by Molly Wetta
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banned books weekBanned and challenged books get a lot of press during Banned Books Week, but I think it’s important to discuss issues like censorship year round and not just for one week at the end of September.

 Since most challenges involve material read in schools or marketed to young adults and librarians who serve teen patrons are often at the center of these issues, I thought an overview of books that were challenged in 2013 would be of interest to Hub readers. Of course, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but I’ve attempted to round up challenges in the United States that involved teen readers.

Most of these books were challenged for being sexually explicit, containing offensive language, or being unsuitable for the age group, and most were challenged because they were included on a suggested reading list for students, part of a class assignment, or available in a school library. These are also, in most cases, books that have received wide acclaim and can teach tolerance and understanding. I was also surprised at how many books are by authors of color. The objections overwhelmingly looked at small sections of text without considering the context or overall message and theme of the book.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

While the ALA counted almost 500 challenges in 2012, it also estimates that for 4-5 challenges go unreported for every one that does make the annual list. Preserving open access to ideas and information is a core tenet of librarianship, which is why I think it’s important to continue to discuss the issue throughout the year.

– Molly Wetta, currently reading Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

 

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2 Responses
  1. Sara Ray permalink
    December 21, 2013

    Thanks for sharing. It’s interesting to see a few classics that have been fighting the fight for so long still showing up on challenged lists.

  2. December 28, 2013

    Fascinating list. Got into checking out which of these I’d like to read straightaway. I wonder if Australia has an equivalent complaints board?

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