Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information. This year, Banned Book week is being celebrated from September 27th − October 3rd. In honor of Banned Book Week, we’re having a special Banned Book edition of Booklr Questions.
Did you know that many of the classic novels that are now required reading in high schools were once banned books? As a matter of fact, 3 of the top 5 most banned books were required reading in my high school.
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
We read The Great Gatsby as part of American English in my junior year, The Catcher in the Rye as part of my sophomore year Advanced English curriculum, and To Kill a Mockingbird in my Sophomore year as well.
Of course, it isn’t just classic novels that have made the list for being banned. The ALA (American Library Association) keeps track of the most challenged books each year. In 2014, many of those banned books were popular YA and children’s reads including:
- 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”
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
- 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”
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
- It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
And that brings me to this week’s Booklr Question —
What is your favorite Banned Book?
My favorite banned book(s) will always be the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. When these books first came out, I remember hearing how some schools were banning this books because they were about witchcraft. I always though that was strange. Yes, the books are about witches and wizards, but these were books that we actually wanted to read. I’m glad I grew up somewhere where we had enough sense not to take books away from children. It gave me a connection to a fandom that is important to my life, even now, 8 years after the last book was published.
Do you have a favorite banned book?