Banned Books Week poster via American Library Association website
Censorship can be a b*tch . . . Who wants to be told what they can and cannot read, what is and what is not available to them at a public or school library?
Every year, hundreds of challenges are made against books due to content, such as subject matter and language. Seriously. That’s the reason why we celebrate Banned Books Week every year!
Many of the “banned” books also are texts that are far outdated, like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, a story of a sexually abused child. Topics such as this are important to discuss because occurrences such as this happen frequently in the world.
In 2015, the American Library Association (ALA) estimated about 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. One can probably add at least 100 more books to that number from the last few years.
The ALA also has a list of frequently challenged books to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools (i.e., the books, genres, and materials they proved for consumption.) But wait! There’s more!
In 2019, a common theme amongst these challenges were against materials and programs that address LGBTQIA+ issues and themes, according to the ALA.
“A notable feature of these challenges is an effort to frame any material with LGBTQIA+ themes or characters as inherently pornographic or unsuitable for minors, even when the materials are intended for children and families and they are age and developmentally appropriate.” (ALA)
Click to read more about the history of Banned Books Week.
Banned Book Fun Facts:
Did you know the classic modern American novel The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger was challenged because Holden Caulfield, the main character, says the word “goddam” 245 times in the book?
According to the American Libraries Magazine, “[Over] 20 million copies of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn [have been] sold worldwide. The book was first published in the United States in February 1885, and by the following month, the town library in Concord, Massachusetts, became the first to ban the novel for being ‘trash of the veriest sort.’”
And 150 free copies of Slaughterhouse-Five were offered to students from the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis in 2011. The 150 students were supposed to read the book at Republic (Mo.) High School prior to the school board banning the novel. (American Libraries Magazine)
Here are the top ten most challenged books of 2020:
*links will take you to books’ Goodreads page
George by Alex Gino
Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney (illustrator)
Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard, and Jennifer Zivoin (Illustrator)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Georgia I. Salvaryn is a graduate student at Rowan University, pursuing a master's in writing. She earned her bachelor's degree from Montclair State University in Journalism, with a minor in Chinese studies. Georgia is a writer and content manager for ink. From full-of-facts investigative journalism pieces to fluffy and fun feature pieces, her writing range reaches across multiple genres. In her spare time, Georgia dabbles in photography, enjoys drawing pen-and-ink art, and attempts to complete New York Times crossword puzzles. You can browse her articles and photos on her website at georgiaisalvaryn.com.