Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Book Week, September 27th- October 3rd

From the American Library Association:

Top ten frequently challenged books of 2014 has been released as part of the State of America's Library Report. Find out which books made the list.

Here's the list:

1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:
7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: sexually explicit

(Editor's note: There are three books on the list that are non-fiction. They are It's Perfectly Normal, a book for children on changing bodies, sex and sex health, Persepolis, a graphic novel about a woman's childhood in Iran in the '70s and A Stolen Life, about a girl kidnapped as a child and held for years by her captor/rapist.   A book on puberty, a memoir and a book about the courage to survive a hellish life, yes, those are books to be banned.)

Each year, the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.
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. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.

Top Ten List Methodology
The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is based on anecdotal data derived from media stories and voluntary reports sent to OIF about book challenges in communities across the United States. Challenges are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others. In some cases OIF may get numerous details about who challenged a book, why they are complaining about the book, what happened during the challenge, and the current status of the book. In other cases, few details are supplied beyond the fact of the challenge and the reasons for the challenge. 

Sometimes OIF receives information as the challenge is happening, and sometimes OIF receives an online report years later. All of this can affect the total number of challenges reported in any given year and how we inform the public about those challenges. Thus the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books list should be seen as a snapshot of the reports OIF receives and not an exhaustive report. 

The goal of the Office for Intellectual Freedom is to educate about individual censorship efforts and to inform the public that censorship is still a very serious problem. Despite the best efforts on the part of OIF to follow up on challenges and provide support to institutions dealing with challenges, surveys indicate up to 85% of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported.

Over this recent past decade, 5,099* challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
  • 1,577 challenges due to "sexually explicit" material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to "offensive language";
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed "unsuited to age group";
  • 619 challenged due to "violence"' and
  • 361 challenges due to "homosexuality."
Further, 274 materials were challenged due to "occult" or "Satanic" themes, an additional 291 were challenged due to their "religious viewpoint," and 119 because they were "anti-family."

1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries; 1,811 were in classrooms; 1,217 took place in public libraries. There were 114 challenges to materials used in college classes; and 30 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to library materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and students. The vast majority of challenges were initiated by parents (2,535), with patrons and administrators to follow (516 and 489 respectively).

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