April means a lot of things to a lot of people: April Fool's Day, April showers, chocolate bunnies. To me, working with books, it means the American Library Association's annual announcement of the most "challenged" books of the previous year.
What do they mean by "challenged"? They mean someone requested the book be removed from their public library because of its offensive nature (and usually that means "offensive to children"). Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other book lovers, most challenges go nowhere; if anything, they create more attention for the books in question.
And speaking of more attention, I proudly present to you the 10 most "challenged" books of 2009.
by Lauren Myracle
This young adult series is a repeat from last year and I'm sure they're proud to have moved up from #3 to #1. People requested the books be removed from the library due to the following reasons: nudity, sexually explicit material, offensive language, being unsuited to the target age group, and drugs. In other words, it reads just like any supermarket tabloid or WB television show.
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell
Tango the baby penguin and his two dads must be sad to have slipped from the #1 slot to #2. The reason for requested removal? Homosexuality. Yes, apparently gay flightless waterfowl pose a serious threat to the moral fiber of our nation. On the other hand, it's good to know that our society has become more tolerant of non-traditional penguin families.
by Stephen Chbosky
Among other reasons for being offensive, apparently this book is "anti-family." I guess these people have never read Paula Danziger's Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice?
by Harper Lee
People wanted this book removed because it's apparently full of "racism and offensive language as well as being unsuited to the age group to which it's targeted." Yeesh. If we ban To Kill a Mockingbird for racism, I suppose we should ban the Civil War classic The Red Badge of Courage for violence.
by J.D. Salinger
Since pretty much every single parent in America has read this book, can't we count on them to decide whether or not this book is too "sexually explicit," contains too much "offensive language," and is "generally unsuitable" for their child?
by Jodi Picoult
Wow. Long list here: It's sexist. And portrays homosexuality. Which of course, makes it sexually explicit. It has offensive language. ...and a religious viewpoint. Don't forget drugs. ...and suicide. ...and violence. ...all of which make it unsuited to the age group to which it's targeted. (And I just realized: with the exception of "drugs," the list above reads a lot like the contents of the Old Testament!)
by Carolyn Mackler
I know nothing about this book other than the fact that it has a great title that will draw in the tweens like flies to honey. That it made the top 10 list? That's the icing on the cake. They should slap a gold foil seal on the cover touting how their big, round butt is apparently sexually explicit, full of offensive language, and is unsuited to the age group to which it's targeted.
by Alice Walker
Reasons for being challenged? To some, this book is too sexually explicit, has too much offensive language, and is unsuited to the age group to which it's targeted. Let's see: sexually explicit... offensive language... unsuited for children... that's pretty much all of cable television, isn't it? Which, as I recall, is in 95% of all households in the country. Meanwhile, what percentage of children set foot in a public library?
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
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