It's Banned Books Week, and since anti-censorship and reading are two things that I can really get behind, I figure I'd do my part to promote awareness. Here are the 100 most frequently challenged books, according to the American Library Association. I've only read 26 of them! I think it's because I was never that fond of Judy Blume. I can't remember which book(s?) of hers I read, though.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I'm not sure which of these were challenged in school libraries, public libraries, or what. Of the ones I've read, I'd say that I wouldn't put the Sleeping Beauty trilogy and the Anarchist Cookbook in a school library, just like I wouldn't give a child a martini. You have to save *some* things for growing up.

I imagine that sex is the primary reason for controversy, with racist language being a close second. But (again, as far as the ones I've read), I don't think that racist language in and of itself promotes racism. Is the sentence "The evil, mean man called him a wop" racist? I guess you could argue that it might teach someone the word "wop," but I think it's better to know that words like that exist, and that they're offensive, and how times have changed, than to be ignorant.

This is coming from someone who (AS AN ILL-JUDGED JOKE!) told a bar full of Quebec engineering students to "speak white"... according to my brand of logic, that was only truly offensive if you think that being called non-white is offensive. If someone called me a redhead, I'd just be puzzled and try to see the joke, because my hair's not red. Same thing with skin tone. Apparently there's a lot more to it than that. Who knew? Well, me, now. I'm lucky to still have all my teeth. Maybe I can say that the book that would have explained the situation was banned from my elementary school library...

Looking back on the list, "promoting the occult" probably was a popular factor too. Sigh. So some kids that can't figure out what fiction is might try chanting nonsense, see it doesn't work, and find some philosophy that does make sense to them. Hm. Maybe I can see why the religious nuts are against it.

Aaaannnyway, how 'bout that local sports team?



13 comments:

  1. Terry said...

    33 for me.

    5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
    8. Forever by Judy Blume
    11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
    19. Sex by Madonna
    22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
    32. Blubber by Judy Blume
    35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
    37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
    46. Deenie by Judy Blume
    47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
    52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    55. Cujo by Stephen King
    56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
    60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
    62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    77. Carrie by Stephen King
    78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
    83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
    84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
    88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

    Who knew being a Judy Blume fan when I was young and a Steven King fan when I was older would be so subversive! Umm... but someone want to explain how 'Where's Waldo' made that list?  

  2. Amy said...

    "but someone want to explain how 'Where's Waldo' made that list?"

    According to a website, it was because, in one of the pictures, there's a topless sunbathing woman somewhere. The comment was "Yes, but did you find Waldo?" :)

    I'm wondering about "How to Eat Fried Worms." I don't remember anything even remotely offensive about that.

    I've seen the movies for American Psycho and The Colour Purple. I should probably read the books...  

  3. Anonymous said...

    "James and the Giant Peach"? What the?

    (Didn't count how many for me, but I do get the Judy Blume points...)

    - Pam  

  4. Amy said...

    Yeah, James and the Giant Peach floored me too. That was the first book I ever read (like, a book without pictures) at the age of 5 or so. And my parents were quite careful about what we were exposed to... I remember I wanted to go see Star Wars (at age 8) and they went to see it first to make sure that they could explain that the scary(?) parts weren't real. I cannot imagine what's objectionable about James and the Giant Peach.  

  5. Terry said...

    Hmm... Did a quick web search and found this...

    Some of the books that made the list shocked me. "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl was ranked 50th, and it remains one of my favorite books. When I was in the fourth grade, Dahl was able to excite my imagination with images of man-sized insects, house-sized peaches, and the giant-sized heart of a child. So what if James was a mistreated orphan? So what if the bugs might not have gotten along all the time? That's what made the book seem real. James didn't live in a perfect world; we don't live in a perfect world. But hey, that doesn't mean that we still can't believe in a little magic now and then.

    So it's objectionable because the orphan is mistreated? Or because it contains 'magic'? *sigh*  

  6. cenobyte said...

    Somewhere in the back of my mind is a niggling little factoid that has something to do with James and the Giant Peach being on the banned list because there is some subliminal sexual message in it. I dunno. The folks who ban books read a LOT More into them than I do.

    And I have a filthy mind.

    I wonder what would happen if someone pointed out that there's this really old book that has a lot of mystical, magical stuff happening in it and loads of sex and breeding, and all kinds of racism and violence and it's not banned from schools or libraries. Or churches, who use it every day. (sigh)

    I read Judy Blume. I only read Judy Blume because a friend of mine told me there was sex in "Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret". There was.

    I also remember reading Slaughterhouse Five for the first time when I was about ten or eleven. As a matter of fact, most of the books on this list that I have read (I didn't bother counting - lost track at "lots"), I read in my formative years...

    ...but I'm not sure if that's an argument for or agin' banning them...

    (sigh)

    When will people realise it's not what kids *read* that turn them into homicidal criminals? Or that reading doesn't cause homosexuality. Or STDs for that matter. Or teen pregnancy.  

  7. Terry said...

    Slaughterhouse Five at 10? Oooh, that explains so much. No wonder your mind was warped. :) I read that at 16 or 17, and it made my brain hurt. I can't imagine reading that book with a 10 year old mind...  

  8. Carl Norum said...

    Tangential: Oh yeah, that local sports team. I went to see them on Friday night, they're 7-0! Maybe we'll see some cup games. ;-)  

  9. Smarty Pants said...

    "Lord of the Flies"? Wha? It's just good, clean violence...
    BTW - isn't that book that churches use actually banned from schools?

    Love that comment about kids and martinis. And I agree. :-)  

  10. cenobyte said...

    I dunno what they ban nowadays. It's all Greek to me.

    hee hee hee

    You know what they oughta get rid of? Bans. Ban the Ban! Down with Oppression! Erm, Protest the protest!

    ...or something...  

  11. Bne said...

    #4 The chocolate war: I agree with this book being banned actually. Not because it has any particularly offensive story components, but rather because the moral is so relentlessly depressing. "Conform or they'll beat you to death" and I don't mean in a metaphysical sense. If you want to read it I'll give (yes give) you my copy so long as you promise never to give it back.  

  12. Marko said...

    Firstly: Sucks to your asthmar. Heh. That joke never gets old. Especially from me. ^_^ I also hope, that if you had a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook (Not that you do *wink*) that you would glance at it, and remember Duluth.
    Secondly: Isn't it interesting how many of these banned books are being made (or already have been made)into movies? "How to Eat Fried Worms" for example, recently got greenlighted, and casting is underway.  

  13. Smarty Pants said...

    So an author should *aspire* to get on the banned list. It increases book publicity and increases your chance for a movie deal? Hmmm...  

 

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