Banned and Challenged Books
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Frequently challenged books of the 21st century– According to the ALA:
“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.
Background Information from 2001 to 2010
Over the past ten years, American libraries were faced with 4,660 challenges.
- 1,536 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
- 1,231 challenges due to “offensive language”;
- 977 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
- 553 challenges due to “violence”
- 370 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and
Further, 121 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 304 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”
1,720 of these challenges (approximately 37%) were in classrooms; 30% (or1,432) were in school libraries; 24% (or 1,119) took place in public libraries. There were 32 challenges to college classes; and 106 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and student groups. The majority of challenges were initiated by parents (almost exactly 48%), while patrons and administrators followed behind (10% each).” From the American Library Association
Here is the ALA list of the top 100 banned or challenged books between 2000-2009. As you consider these two lists, ask yourself these questions:
How many of these books have you read?
Why were the ones you have read banned or challenged? Do you agree/disagree with the reasons for banning/challenging?
As you read Milton’s Areopagitica, do you agree/disagree with his argument about the nature of books, about the consequences of censoring, banning, or destroying books?