The Freedom to Read: 2015’s Banned Books

Allison Althof, Staff Writer

Did you know that there have been over 11,300 books challenged by libraries, schools, and bookstores since 1982 according to the American Library Association? Everyone hears about how books are challenged and banned but we don’t really think about the sheer number of books that people try to ban every year, or why. Last year alone there where 311 challenged books.

In many cases, some people don’t understand why books are banned or challenged. A good example is “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” by Stephan Chbosky. This book has been challenged enough that it makes the Top Ten Most Challenge Books of the American Library Association. The movie trailers for the 2012 movie version show that it’s mostly about a guy trying to navigate his first year of high school and all the bumps in the path he takes. However, movies always lose something when they are trying to fit over 300 pages into a couple of hours. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” is a classic case of sex, drug, and rock n’ roll with a lot of other controversial material thrown into the mix, which is the case with quite a few of the books on the list.

Thankfully, the American Library Association is not allowed to officially ban books, but that doesn’t stop people from challenging them. Books are considered a part of free speech just as much as anything that people interact and entertain themselves with. There will always be someone who thinks that a certain book shouldn’t be out there and some who are all right with it. Banned books are just another part of life and some of these are stories that are
seriously worth reading.

Top 10 banned books

The American Libraray Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) gets reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. According to the ALA, the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 were:

  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.

  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