Blogs > Liberty and Power > Banned Books Week

Sep 25, 2006 4:50 pm


Banned Books Week



According to the American Library Association, September 23-30 is Banned Books Week.

Here's the ALA's list of the top 10 most challenged books of this century so far:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
The Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
The Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
Forever by Judy Blume





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Jonathan Dresner - 9/27/2006

If they're following procedure from previous years, the list is books most frequently challenged regardless of the success of the challenge. It's kind of lame, but it's also a useful zeitgeist metric.


Paul Noonan - 9/27/2006

If the Harry Potter books have been banned why does every kid in America seem to be reading them?

This list is, I take it, a list of books most commonly excluded from school libraries and the children's sections of public libraries. Any parent can presumably obtain any of these books for his or her children with a minimum of effort. As a practical matter, most kids above the age of 12 or 13 are probably resourceful enough to get their hands on any of these books even in the face of parental prohibition.

The list simply represents the fact that in some more conservative areas books are excluded from school libraries and children's rooms that would be acceptable in such venues in more liberal communities. I don't suppose THE JOY OF SEX is in very many junior high libraries, shouldn't it be on the list as well? Of course not, since there is a consensus that it is not appropriate for children that age. I think people who don't want kids to read Harry Potter are silly, but does every school library have to have exactly the same books?

As recently as 50 years ago the following would have been "banned books" in the US:

FANNY HILL
LADY CHATTERLEY' LOVER
TROPIC OF CANCER & TROPIC OF CAPRICORN

And when I say "banned" I mean "banned". An adult would have been unable to get them in a public library or in a bookstore (except from behind the counter in some places if the bookseller trusted you). They had to either be printed clandestinely in the US or smuggled in from abroad. In either event those involved in their distribution risked prosecution and imprisonment.

We've come a long way when the only people who have to worry about not getting to read what they want are people under 18.


Stephan Kinsella - 9/25/2006

This is just an outrage. Almost none of the books on that list deserve to be banned.

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