Banned Books Week, an annual event meant to highlight the issue of censorship.
The American Library Association has put together a list of the books most often banned or challenged in 2012 and 2013, and some of the titles are pretty surprising, including classics and critically acclaimed works.
A book “challenge” is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school asking that a book be removed based on its content.
Here are some surprising titles that made the list for most often challenged or banned this year:
“Romeo and Juliet,” William Shakespeare
The “No Fear Shakespeare” version of this classic play was challenged by parents in South Carolina. The complaints said the easy-to-read version of the play is “too mature” for middle-school children because it has mature themes about sex.
“Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card
The popular young adult book that’s being made into a movie caused a controversy in South Carolina when a teacher read parts of the book to students in his class. The school put the teacher on administrative leave while they investigated the incident, which came to light when a 14-year-old student complained that the book was “pornographic.”
“The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” Steven Chbosky
Parents of students at Grandview Heights High School in Columbus, OH were outraged when this coming-of-age book (recently made into a movie starring Emma Watson) was assigned as required reading. Some parents attempted to ban it because it addresses drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, and abuse.
“Looking For Alaska,” John Green
This young adult book was banned from schools in Sumner County, Tenn. because it supposedly used “inappropriate language.” But the novel seemingly has clear literary value considering it won the 2006 Printz award for excellence in young adult literature.
“50 Shades Of Grey,” E.L. James
You won’t find this scandalous book at many libraries across the country, despite overwhelming demand. The racy novel about a student who gets sucked into an intense affair with a young entrepreneur was pulled from the shelves at the Brevard County Public Libraries in Florida, but was eventually put back “in response to public demand.” Other libraries haven’t bent to the public pressure and still don’t stock the book.
“The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini
The school board in Troy, Penn. debated on whether they should approve this New York Times bestseller as optional reading for 10th-grade honours students.
“Beloved,” Toni Morrison
This acclaimed novel about a woman who escapes from slavery was nearly banned from two school districts in Michigan and Virginia. The complaints objected to “obscene” passages in the book that addressed murder and rape. “Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.
“Fight Club,” Chuck Palaniuk
A Texas school district took this book off of its required reading list after parents complained about its violent nature. The novel addresses masculinity and consumerism and was adapted into a movie that gained a cult following.
“The Glass Castle,” Jeannette Walls
This bestselling memoir was challenged at school districts in Michigan and Kansas because of the explicit language and references to child molestation and violence. The memoir chronicles the life of the author, who grew up in a dysfunctional family.
“Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi
Chicago public schools ordered this book removed from its schools because of “graphic illustrations and language.” The graphic novel is based on the author’s experience of growing up in Iran during the revolution. Students protested the decision, and eventually, high school principals were told to ignore the order to pull the book from library shelves.
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