Thursday, September 27, 2007

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read!

I Read Banned BooksSeptember 29 to October 6, 2007 is Banned Books Week, a nationwide campaign to promote freedom of expression. Sponsored by librarians, booksellers, publishers, and writers, Banned Books Week has been observed every year since 1982.

According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, from 1990 to 2005 there were 8,737 recorded incidents of challenges to materials at all types of libraries, including public, school, and academic libraries, across the United States.

ALA defines a “challenge” as “an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.” Materials have been challenged for some of the following reasons:

  • “sexually explicit”

  • “offensive language”

  • “unsuited to age group”

  • “occult theme or promoting the occult or Satanism”

  • “violent”

  • “promoting homosexuality”

  • ”promoting a religious viewpoint”

  • “nudity”

  • “racism”

Luckily, ALA reports that “most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection." This is "due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens.”

So, how can you celebrate your freedom to read? Come to Carnegie-Stout and check out your favorite challenged or banned books! And for more ideas, click here.


  1. I noticed on this ALA website link about favorite challenged and banned books that several of the latest challenged books have a description of "anti-family?" What exactly does this mean, and who are the people that put this list together,defining why it is challenged?

  2. From the ALA: "The American Library Association (ALA) collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals, some of whom use the Challenge Database Form. All challenges are compiled into a database."

    ALA's Challenge Database Form includes a section, "Grounds for Challenge," and "Anti-Family" is one category which individuals can select as a reason why material was challenged.

    For more info, see this page:

  3. FROM ALA website:

    In his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.”



  4. Very interesting that many of the challeneged books from the past several years have been written by authors of color. This is definitely worth looking at and discussing. I think that CSPL (Carnegie Stout Public Library) should have book discussions regularly for adults on books written by authors of color.

  5. From ALA's Most Frequently Challenged Books
    Written by Authors of Color

    The number is the rank within the list of the 100 most frequently challenged books, 1990-2000.

    3 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Reason for challenges: racism, homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

    18 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, violence

    24 Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
    Reason for challenges: racism, offensive language, violence

    31 Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
    Reason for challenges: homosexuality, sexually explicit

    39 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

    42 Beloved by Toni Morrison
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, violence

    67 The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

    71 Native Son by Richard Wright
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, violence

    75 Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, occult

    85 Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    Reason for challenges: racism, sexually explicit, offensive language

    86 Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
    Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

    Other books written by authors of color challenged during this period include Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (offensive language) by Mildred D. Taylor and American Indian Myths and Legends (sexually explicit) by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.