Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. The 10 most challenged titles of 2015 were:
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
Hundreds of books have been either removed or challenged in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 311 in 2014. ALA estimates that 70 to 80 percent are never reported.
SUPPORT BANNED BOOKS WEEK – What You Can Do
Help support the Banned Books Week initiative by purchasing promotional products like the posters featured here, including T-shirts, buttons and bookmarks. Visit the ALA Store to purchase these products.
SUPPORT THE EFFORT TO DEFEND THE FIRST AMENDMENT IN LIBRARIES AND BEYOND
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund sells signed comic books and t-shirts. Support your right to read comic books by purchasing merchandise from their store.
The American Society of Journalists and Authors sells “I Read Banned Books” buttons for $1 each. Check out their store for more information.
Purchase Project Censored latest book, The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2013-14. To purchase, please visit their site.