Disturb the Universe: Read a Banned Book


ALA Banned Books Week poster.Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?

That's a T.S. Eliot line featured in the banned book, The Chocolate War. Banned or challenged books offend some individuals to the point where they don't want anyone else in their community reading that title.

The American Library Association believes in intellectual freedom, which is "the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular." For this reason, they sponsor a yearly celebration of banned and challenged books, called Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week

This year, Banned Books Week will be held from September 26th to October 1st. You may want to check out some frequently banned and challenged books, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Harry Potter, and Captain Underpants. Yep, that's right, Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey has been challenged, for "insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority."

Here are some other recently challenged books and the reasons why they were challenged. All of this information was compiled by the ALA in their Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Banned in the Stockton, Mo. School District (2010) because of violence, language, and some sexual content. Retained in the Helena, Mont. School District (2011) despite a parent’s objection that the book contained "obscene, vulgar and pornographic language." This New York Times bestseller won the National Book Award in 2007 in the "Young People’s Literature" category, and is on many recommended book lists. Source: July 2010, p. 156; Sept. 2010, pp. 198–99; Nov. 2010, pp. 241, 243–44; Mar. 2011, pp. 73–74.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Challenged in the Republic, Mo. schools (2010) because it is "soft-pornography" and "glorifies drinking, cursing, and premarital sex." Source: Nov. 2010, pp. 243–44.

Forever in Blue: the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Challenged at the Theisen Middle School in Fond du Lac, Wis. (2010) by a parent who believes that the book has inappropriate subject matter for children. "Some (of the characters in the book) are sexually active, and alcohol is part of their recreation." Source: July 2010, pp. 156, 176.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Challenged and presented to the Goffstown, N.H. school board (2010) by a parent claiming that it gave her eleven-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence. Source: Jan. 2011, pp. 10–11.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
The Belleville, Wis. School Board (2011) decided to keep a book that’s required reading for high school freshmen in the curriculum despite a parent’s complaint that the book was "pornography" and its language was "pervasively vulgar." Published in 1993, the novel has been read by ninth-grade students at Belleville High School for eight years. The book deals with topics of abortion, sexuality, and the power of religion. Source: Jan. 2011, p. 13; Mar. 2011, p. 75.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Removed from the Lake Fenton, Mich. summer reading program (2010) after parents complained about its "foul language." The book is about an autistic child who investigates the death of a neighborhood dog. It was a joint winner of the 2004 Boeke Prize and won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year award. Source: Sept. 2010, p. 200.

There are literally hundreds of challenged books each year. You can find a list here.

Something New This Year: Virtual Read-Outs!

They are online videos featuring popular young adult authors. Find out more at the YouTube BBW Virtual Read-Out and watch Jay Asher, Chris Crutcher, and Lauren Myracle speak out for intellectual freedom.


Author Bio:

Cynthia R. is currently working her way through the Game of Thrones books, work being the important word, but Tyrion is just so charming and Cercei can die any time now.

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