This week we celebrate Banned Books Awareness Week, which pays tribute to the freedom to read and draws attention to books that have been banned or challenged. Though we’d like to imagine that the censorship of literature is a thing of the past, books get banned and challenged every year for various reasons. Here is a list of ten of the most frequently challenged books in the last few years and the reasons they have been challenged.
1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green, was challenged because of offensive language and being sexually explicit.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James, was challenged for being poorly written and sexually explicit with concerns that “a group of teenagers will want to try it.”
3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, was challenged for homosexual content and being inaccurate.
4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, was challenged for being “anti-family,” having offensive language and homosexual themes.
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, was challenged for “profanity and atheism.”
6. The Holy Bible has been on the banned and challenged list almost every year. The reason given for the challenge is its “religious viewpoint.”
7. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel, is a graphic memoir that was challenged for violence and other “graphic images.”
8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson, is a graphic novel that was challenged for nudity and being sexually explicit.
9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter, was challenged for its religious viewpoint and for violence.
10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan, was challenged for its homosexual subject matter and because it “condones public displays of affection.”
Other books like Beloved, by Toni Morrison, And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, are some of the most challenged books of the last ten years. And just this month, the book Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel, by Dan Slater was banned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Judy Blume said “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.” As I look over the list of the most frequently challenged books, I believe her words are words by which we should live if we truly want to make censorship a thing of the past.