Each year, the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten books most frequently challenged as "too offensive" to appear in a public library. Below is the top ten list for 2008.
A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Note that the ALA doesn't claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges — research suggests that for each challenge reported, there are as many as four or five which go unreported.
Finally, I noticed the ALA received a total of 513 challenges in 2008 — a 22% increase over 2007. Also, in 2007, a full half of the books listed reflected an undercurrent of racism in the challenges, yet this year, racism isn't cited for any of the books. It's nice to see that the close-minded people of our nation have diversified the number of issues they find offensive. ;-)
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell
I'm sure the authors — Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell — are proud that their award-winning children's book about two male penguins caring for an orphaned egg tops the list for the third year in a row. Why was this book challenged? "For being anti-ethnic and anti-family, for including homosexuality, for having a religious viewpoint," and because it's just generally "unsuitable material for the target age group." Wow. This book really sweeps the charts!
by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Challenged for including occult/satanism issues, having a religious viewpoint, and promoting violence.
by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons for being challenged? Occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, its sexually explicit material, and oh yeah... violence.
by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons for being challenged? Drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit content, "suicide" (unclear whether a character actually commits the act or just contemplates it), and unsuitability for the target age group.
by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Challenged for offensive language, sexually explicit content, and big surprise — for being unsuitable to the target age group. (I wonder if these people have turned on their television lately?)
by Sarah S. Brannen
Challenged for inclusion of homosexual characters and for being unsuitable to the target age group. (Personally, I'm not sure exactly what age group is appropriate for a story about gay hamsters.)
by Khaled Hosseini
Wow. This one surprised me. It was challenged for offensive language, being sexually explicit, and for being unsuitable to the target age group. How this book could be unsuitable to the target age group is beyond me — this #1 New York Times best-seller is a novel for adults, marketed to adults, and read primarily by adults.
by Charise Mericle Harper
And finally, this book was challenged for sexually explicit material and, once again, for being unsuitable for the target age group.
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