YA Friday: Banned Books Week

Submitted by Leizel Case on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 8:27 AM

Banned Books Week Speak Out header with a megaphone

Banned Books Week 2019: September 22 – 28

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

What is a challenge? What is a ban?

Book bans generally start with a challenge — a verbal or formal written attempt to restrict access to materials or to remove them entirely. A ban happens when those materials are actually removed from the shelves, classrooms, or performance spaces.

Are books really still banned in the United States?

Yes! Every year the American Library Association reports hundreds of challenges to book in school and libraries all over the United States, and ALA estimates that the unreported number of challenges is significantly higher. People continually try to take away readers' power to decide what books are right for themselves or their children by initiating challenges to remove books from libraries. IN some cases, book are actually removed from library and classrooms. This not only infringes on readers' rights, but also limits access to materials, especially for those who do not have the opportunity to purchase books.

Why are books challenged?

Books are usually challenged with the best of intentions, often motivated by a desire to protect younger readers from "inappropriate" content. Books are challenged over sexual content, profanity, age appropriateness, violence, religious viewpoint, LGBTQ content, political bias, drug and alcohol use, suicide, and much more.

Who challenges and bans books?

Most challenges come from library patrons and parents, who raise concerns over content they find objectionable. Sometimes, a library or school staffer or administrator will bring a challenge. Politicians, political organizations, and religious groups have also targeted books and plays. On a few occasions, students have brought complaints to administrators.

The ultimate arbitrator of the challenge depends on the policies of the institution where a book is challenged. Institutions without a thoughtful reconsideration protocol are far more likely to ban materials.

Man shouting "Books!"

5 Most Challenged Books of 2018

George book cover

1. George written by Alex Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

Cover of A Day in the life of Marlon Bundo2. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo written by Marlon Bundo with Jill Twiss ; illustrated by EG Keller

HBO's Emmy-winning Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents a children's picture book about a Very Special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny. Meet Marlon Bundo, a lonely bunny who lives with his Grampa, Mike Pence - the Vice President of the United States. But on this Very Special Day, Marlon's life is about to change forever ... With its message of tolerance and advocacy, this charming children's book explores issues of same-sex marriage and democracy. Sweet, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this book is dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different.

The book, which was banned and challenged for including LGBTQIA+ content, and for political and religious viewpoints,donated 100% of proceeds from the sales to The Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Captain Underpants cover

3. Captain Underpants Series written by Dav Pilkey

Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a couple of class clowns. The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is creating their own comic books. And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history of their elementary school: Captain Underpants! His true identity is so secret, even he doesn't know who he is.

This immensely poular series was banned because series was challenged because it was perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior, while Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot was challenged for including a same-sex couple.

the hate u give cover4. The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas

After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

This Printz Honor Book is challenged and banned for being deemed “anti-cop,” and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references.

Drama book cover5. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it contains LGBTQIA+ characters and was considered "confusing."

For the remaining 5 books on the list, please see The Top Ten Most Challenged Books list.

Blog Category
Teens

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