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Tag: banned books

The Next Big Thing in Banned Books

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

It’s that time of year again! While most of the world has no idea to which time I’m referring, those of us who make books our business are perfectly aware that it is Banned Books Week. This is a week we wait for all year: storing up thoughts to share on our blogs and with random passers-by concerning intellectual freedom and the place books play in the dispersion of ideas; carefully considering which books to display in order to get people discussing issues they may not regularly take up; painstakingly deciding how much “shock and awe” our communities can handle as we make banners and posters urging everyone to THINK!

Before we look forward at the next big thing in banned books, let’s take a quick look back at some of the trends in banning and challenging throughout the years.

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Sex, God, and the Series: The Top 10 Book Challenges of 2011

The American Library Association yesterday released its list of the top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2011. At first blush, this year’s list appears to have few surprises, and in fact, 8 of the 10 books have been on the list before. Half of the titles have been on the list at least three times in the past 11 years.

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The biggest surprise comes from a title that isn’t in the list this year: And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. This picture book, which tells the story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who become parents to a baby girl penguin, has held court at #1 or #2 on the banned books list since 2006. Yet this year the title has dropped off the top 10 entirely.

Graph of Trends in Challenged Books

There are also some more subtle shifts in this year’s list that shed light on some interesting trends in book challenges over the past decade:


Censorship in Tucson, Arizona: Exercise Your Rights

We all had the chance to celebrate the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week from September 24th to October 1st, 2011. During this time, readers of all ages were encouraged to read materials that were challenged for a variety reasons. Now, only a few months later, a new challenge to intellectual freedom has arisen in Arizona:

Tucson, Arizona, public schools suspended their Mexican-American studies program after an administrative law judge ruled it violated a new state law and the state said the local district was going to lose $15 million in annual aid, officials said. (CNN)

Basically the law prevents “ethnic studies classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.” On January 31, 2012, the ALA announced that they were totally opposed to restricting books based on their cultural or ethnic content. Encouraged by ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement, which says, “No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say,” here is a list of books students in Arizona can no longer read.

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Banned Books Week: My banned favorite, The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Every year during Banned Books Week, I like to peruse ALA’s lists of most frequently banned or challenged titles. They have quite a collection by year, by decade, etc. it’s always interesting to see what gets challenged and why. In the list of titles for the decade from 2000-2009, book number 10 always catches my eye: Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’ve read many of the frequently banned & challenged books, but The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which is soon to be a movie!) has a special place in my heart.

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