September 25th through October 1st is Banned Books Week!
One of my favorite weeks of the year. As usual, I’ve dug the PDF report from the American Library Association on banned and challenged books during the 2010-2011 school year out and highlighted several of my favorite books.
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Walker, Margaret; Jubilee (Houghton)
Challenged at the Jacksonville, Ill. High School (2010) by a pastor who said he found the fictionalized story of the author’s grandmother, who was born as a slave in Georgia an “offensive” and “trashy” novel about the way of life in the Old South. “We believe it is to promote superiority for white people and to step on black people and make them feel inferior.” The Ku Klux Klan challenged the novel in South Carolina in 1977 because it produces “racial strife and hatred.”
Burroughs, Augusten; Running with Scissors (St. Martin)
Challenged as a suggested reading in a class where juniors and seniors earn college credit in Hillsborough County, Fla. (2010). Four high schools — Plant, Middleton, Hillsborough, and Bloomingdale — voted to keep the book and place a “Mature Reader” label on the front cover. Three high schools — Sickles, Robinson, and Lennard — will require parental consent. Gaither High School and Riverview High School voted to ban the book. Riverview’s report stated: “This book has extremely inappropriate content for a high school media center collection. The book contained explicit homosexual and heterosexual situations, profanity, underage drinking and smoking, extreme moral shortcomings, child molesters, graphic pedophile situations and total lack of negative consequences throughout the book.”
Source: May 2010, pp. 103–4.
Collins, Suzanne; The Hunger Games (Scholastic)
Challenged and presented to the Goffstown, N.H. school board (2010) by a parent claiming that it gave her eleven-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence.
Source: Jan. 2011, pp. 10–11.
Foer, Jonathan Safran; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Houghton)
Challenged in the Richland, Wash. School District (2010). Used in a tenth-grade honors language arts class at Hanford High, the book tells the story of Oskar Schell, a young boy whose father died in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. The book contains profanity, sex, and descriptions of violence.
Source: July 2010, pp. 156–57.
Mathabane, Mark; Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa (Macmillan)
Challenged, but retained, at the San Luis Obispo, Calif. High School (2010) despite containing a passage that graphically details sexual assault. The book had been taught at the school for more than a decade without controversy.
Source: Jan. 2011, p. 29.
Monette, Paul; Writers’ Voice: Selected from Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (Signal Hill Publications)
Pulled from circulation at the Cheatham, Tenn. Middle School (2011). The anthology contains a selection from Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, chronicling how Monette coped with a lover’s death from AIDS. The book talks frankly about past promiscuity and uses profanity. School policy was changed after the complaint. The previous policy kept challenged books available in the library until two weeks after the review process was complete. Now the book is removed and a decision is made within forty-eight hours.
Source: May 2011, p. 95.
Smith, Jeff; Bone (Scholastic)
Retained in the Rosemount, Minn. elementary school libraries (2010) despite a parent’s concern that the series includes smoking, drinking, and gambling in its graphics and storyline. The series is rated suitable for fourth grade and up, has won several awards, and received positive reviews from national publications, including Time, which touted the series as the “best all-ages graphic novel ever published.”
Source: July 2010, p. 175.