CNN: ‘Captain Underpants’ tops list of challenged books

CNN Living
By Emanuella Grinberg and CNN Library, CNN
September 24, 2013

CaptainUnderpants(CNN) — What would you do if you went to the library in search of “The Adventures of Captain Underpants” for your child, or to re-read Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” only to find that the book had been pulled from the shelves because another patron objected to its content?

It happens in the United States more often than many realize. At least 464 formal complaints were filed in 2012 seeking to remove books from libraries or schools, according to the American Library Association, a sponsor of Banned Books Week, which runs September 22-28. Its mission is to celebrate the freedom to read and highlight the pitfalls of censorship.

The annual event started in 1982, the same year the Supreme Court ruled that students’ First Amendment rights were violated when Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and eight other books were removed from school libraries. Despite the legal precedent, schools and libraries still receive formal challenges to remove books from library shelves or nix them from reading lists to protect children from material some see as inappropriate.

Just this month, a North Carolina school board voted to ban Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” based on complaints from the parent of an 11th-grader. The board is reportedly scheduled to reconsider its decision.

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The Gazette: Practicing Free Expression

The Cedar Rapids Gazette
by Jennifer Hemmingsen
September 24, 2013

and tango makes threeBanned Book Week Column: Practicing Free Expression (Banned Book Week is the time to practice the right to express unpopular or uncomfortable views.)

With at least a decade between us and the last time a book was completely banned from an Iowa library, Banned Book Week — which starts this week — is more a gentle prod than a call to action.

It’s a chance to reaffirm our belief in the right to free expression. A reminder that our commitment to that right is never tested in easy or uncomplicated ways.

And, although this might seem counterintuitive, it’s also a chance to practice what we preach — to give full hearing and respect to those who would challenge public and school libraries’ inclusion of certain books in their collections.

As Carroll Public Library Director Kelly Fischbach likes to say: You don’t really believe in a right unless you believe in it for your worst enemy.

We can’t celebrate Banned Book Week by making demons out of people who are simply standing up for their beliefs.

Does that mean that I agree? Not one bit. It seems most Iowans don’t, either.

Only 15 books have been challenged in Iowa public and school libraries since 2005, according to the Iowa Library Association.

Fischbach, chairwoman of the association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, said it’s the kind of thing that might happen only once in a librarian’s career.

There are some usual suspects. The true-life tale of a same-sex penguin couple and their family seems to always rise to the top of the challenged list.

The rest is an odd sort of mix.

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Huffington Post: 7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned
by Maddie Crum
September 22, 2013

BBW_Read_200x200Risqué-averse readers, cover your ears. Sunday marked the beginning of this year’s National Banned Books Week, for which libraries and bookstores across the country will promote and celebrate commonly censored titles. The organization calls its cause a “celebration of the freedom to read.”

According to, 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, when the event was launched. What constitutes a “banned” book, as opposed to a “challenged” book? The American Library Association explains:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

Last year’s most frequently challenged or banned titles included a mix of Young Adult books, literary classics and romance novels, such as “Gossip Girl,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

This year’s list includes a few stalwarts, such as Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” and Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed,” and a few titles that have recent or forthcoming film adaptations, such as Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

So why are these stories, many of which are venerated award-winners, being scorned, and in some cases, pulled from shelves? Here are some of the reasons that have been cited:…

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Forbes: Five Banned Books That You Should Read (That You Probably Haven’t)

by Alex Knapp
September 23, 2013

Hadden,MarkThis week is Banned Books Week, where librarians and other organizations highlight the books that have been subjected to threats of censorship – and actual censorship – in schools, libraries and nations around the globe. Among the frequently challenged books include classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and popular books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Many are books that you really ought to read, like Cat’s Cradle or Harry Potter. But then, you probably have read them – either because your school made you or because all your friends pushed them on you.

In between, though, are lots of books that you might not have heard of – or, at the very least, heard of but weren’t required to read when you were in school. With that in mind, I’ve created a list of five challenged or banned books that you probably haven’t read. Celebrate Banned Books Week by picking one up and giving it a read!

Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon

Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei


The Epic of Gilgamesh

Find out why you should read these books (and why they were challenged or banned) in the full article:

npr books: Banned Romance

FiftyShadesOfGreyBanned Romance: What’s so bad about happily after after?
by Maya Rodale
September 22, 2013

As Banned Books Week begins, it’s a good time to examine one genre that frequently falls afoul of censors: romance.

When it comes to books banned for obscenity, it’s easy to assume that just the naughty bits are getting people all hot and bothered. But what if there’s a more subversive threat lurking within the pages of sexually-explicit novels? From Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure to Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and even modern day romance novels — there’s a long tradition of books starring sexually adventurous heroines who are rewarded with a happy ending. There’s also an equally long tradition of either banning such books outright or dismissing them completely. Compare that to many other heroines of classic, required-reading novels who dally with love only to die in the end: Juliet, Anna Karenina, Clarissa, Madame Bovary. What’s the problem with heroines who love and live happily-ever-after?…

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