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In Honor of Banned Books Week, Here Are the Most Challenged Books of 2014

The American Library Association reported 311 formal, written challenges to books

(Greg Hinsdale/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

To Kill a Mockingbird. The Great Gatsby. The Diary of Anne Frank. Where the Wild Things Are. These aren’t just beloved, classic books — they’re books that have been banned or challenged over the years. Now, the American Library Association has released its list of 2014’s most-challenged books.

The list was released by the Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which conducts oversight on library professionals and collects statistics on censorship. It uses newspapers and individual reports of challenges to published materials, then publishes a bimonthly newsletter on challenged books and compiles the statistics into an annual list. Every year during Banned Books Week, the list is published in what the Association calls an effort to “inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools.”

This year, the ALA reported 311 formal, written challenges to books. At the top of this year’s list is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which was number three on last year’s list. Dav Pilkev’s Captain Underpants series, which topped last year’s list, has fallen off the list, though Pilkev still remains on the ALA’s list of frequently-challenged authors.

In an infographic about challenged books, the ALA notes that 35 percent of challenges come from parents and 38 percent are filed in public libraries. Over the last decade, notes the ALA, over 5,000 challenges have been recorded by its Office for Intellectual Freedom, 1,577 of which were for “sexually explicit” material and 1,291 of which were for “offensive language” (age inappropriateness, violence and homosexuality also top the list of reasons why people challenge books).

What better way to celebrate Banned Books Week than to take a look at one of the most-challenged contenders? Brush up on banned books and check out the complete top 10 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, by 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.

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, by Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10)    Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

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