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Top 10 Most Banned Books from Last Year

Top 10 Most Banned Books from Last Year
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September 22-28 marks Banned Books Week this year, a week during which we draw attention to the books that have been censored, challenged and banned in schools and libraries across the country and during which we also celebrate the freedom to read whatever we want.

Throughout history, some of the most culturally important books have been banned, drawing attention to the important issues they present and, ironically, making them more enticing, especially to young readers.

Books are still being banned in today’s society. Just last week, a North Carolina county school board voted 5-2 to ban Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” stating that they found “no literary value” in the work and that it was “too much for teenagers.” “Invisible Man” is one of the most famous pieces of literature about Black life in America in the 1950s and won the National Book Award, so the school board’s assertion that it had no literary merit is, at the very least, questionable. It is also the number one most cited book on the College Board’s Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam, a national test for high schoolers to earn college credit from their Advanced Placement courses.

Just a few days before North Carolina’s decision, in Arizona, “Dreaming in Cuban,” Cristina García’s critically acclaimed book about politics and family after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, was banned. The American Library Association says that the book has never been banned before, even though the parent who challenged the book cited sexually explicit material. Considering Arizona’s long history of banning books and stripping courses having to do with Latino/a culture, this decision is questionable as well.

Furthermore, according to the American Library Association, from 2000-2009 there were:

  • 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.”

Every year, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom puts together a list of the top 10 most challenged books of the previous year (and you can find a list of frequently banned classics here, too). This year, you might be surprised to find some of your favorite titles topping the list. Here they are, in reverse order.

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Featured Image Credit: IssacMao, Book images: Image Credit: Goodreads.com

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221 comments

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6:23PM PST on Feb 21, 2014

Im not surprised about 50 Shades of Gray, for children at least. But for adults? They can read it for all i care.
The other books seem like lovely stories....so sad...

6:30PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

censorship is never the sign of anything other than a hunger to control the lives and voices of others. banned books are often the most moving and heartfelt

8:58AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Margaret G. but that's just it, I don't see why a book of Mythology should get a pass just because some people believe it's true. I say it should be treated like every other book, categorized, perhaps restricted by Age, but allowing the Public to choose what they wish to read.

2:52PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Some comments have jokingly suggested that the Bible be banned. I recall reading that the Roman Catholic Church did in fact ban part of the Bible, and that only the Reformation and the invention of the printing press stopped the ban.

6:29AM PDT on Oct 3, 2013

ty

8:46AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

There are some books which are totally unsuitable for very young children - no doubt about that. But adults should be free to read whatever they choose - however disgusting it may be! I don't like foul language (brought up by Victorian grandparents) but accept that it is now, sadly, part of everyday life. Children hear it from their parents, and no one is shocked by it any more. But putting books on a 'banned' list instantly makes them 'must haves' for kids - so a little common sense would be a good idea here! Children should be prepared for the risks and pitfalls of life, and that's a job for parents and teachers - and I believe it can be done without the need for seedy, explicit, violent literature.

1:36AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

So wrong. Thanks for posting!

3:09PM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

I never forbade either of my kids from listening to/reading/watching music, books or even TV. We talked about things, I made suggestions and offered advice, but never told them anything was forbidden (like that would do any good!). As a result, they both made it to adulthood without any trauma, and with a reasonable amount of curiosity about the world.

And yeah, banning anything makes it way more attractive. Want to get your kids to read good stuff? Put it on the "forbidden" list.

1:53PM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

banning any book for any reason is repugnant

7:28AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

thank you

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