“To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list.“–John Aiken
Celebrate the freedom to read what you want and having an open mind during Banned Book Week, September 30-October 6, 2012. We have listed below ten frequently challenged classics. The Harry Potter books and The Hunger Games are joining their ranks!
1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain has been censored since its initial publication in 1885. Mark Twain was actually delighted by its censorship, as he figured it would increase sales. In 1998 parents in Tempe, AZ sued the high school for including it on the required reading list. The case went all the way to a federal appeals court, but, ultimately, the parents lost and freedom won.
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Since its publication in 1951 this coming-of-age classic, has been a favorite among adolescents, but challenged–often successfully–by lots of their parents. Through the years, many school boards eliminated it from school libraries and English curriculums. Said one school board member in 2001 in Summerville, SC, it “is a filthy, filthy book.”
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was challenged in Union City, TN and Greenville, SC in the nineties for using the name of God and Jesus in a “vain and profane manner along with inappropriate sexual references.” This classic is also targeted for its depiction of poverty and its negative portrayal of America.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was removed from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada in 2009 because of objections to its language, in particular the use of the word “nigger.”
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker was challenged by parents in Morgantown, NC in 2008 for its portrayal of homosexuality, rape, and incest.
6. Beloved by Toni Morrison was pulled from the senior Advanced Placement (AP) English class at Eastern High School in Louisville, KY in 2007 because two parents complained about inappropriate topics such as bestiality, racism, and sex.
7. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding was challenged, but retained, in 2000 on the ninth-grade accelerated English reading list in Bloomfield, NY.
8. 1984, by George Orwell was challenged in Jackson County, FL in 1981 because it was “pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.”
9. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The main character of this novel, a pedophile, prompted the Marion-Levy Public Library System in Ocala, Fl to challenge it in 2006 for being “unsuitable for minors.”
10. The Diary of Anne Frank was removed from a Virginia school in January of 2010 for “sexually explicit” and “homosexuality” themes.
So, preview a book to see if you would like it–decide for yourself–and celebrate the right to read!
–Judith Barker and Bonnie James