April 14, 2015

ALA’s most challenged books list

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Sherman Alexie tops the ALA's list of most frequently challenged books for 2014. © Larry D. Moore / via Wikimedia Commons

Sherman Alexie tops the ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books for 2014.
© Larry D. Moore / via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, the American Library Association (ALA) released its annual list of the most frequently challenged and banned books in libraries across the country. Part of the organization’s State of America’s Libraries Report, the list of 2014’s books that received the most complaints range from classics like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (a perennial favorite among book banners) to children’s and YA books that address homosexuality to the memoir by kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard.

Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s And Tango Makes Three—a kids’ book about two male penguins who raise an egg together—is back on the list after a couple years off, for being “anti-family,” being “unsuited for age group,” and “promot[ing] the homosexual agenda.” Homosexuality is also listed as a reason for complaints about The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which also comes under fire for “drugs/alcohol/smoking” as well as “date rape and masturbation.”

At the top of the list this year is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, one of four titles by authors of color, the others being Morrison, Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), and Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner). In a statement accompanying the list, the ALA says:

The lack of diverse books for young readers continues to fuel concern. Over the past 12 months the library community has fostered conversations and fueled a groundswell toward activism to address the lack of diversity reflected in children’s literature—both in content and among writers and illustrators. A current analysis of book challenges recorded by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) from 2001 – 2013, shows that attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.

The full list of the most frequently challenged books, along with the reasons for complaints, is below and on the ALA website:

1) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3) And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4) The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5) It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6) Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9) A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10) Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit

 

Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.

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