The American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 27-Oct. 4) highlights books that have been the object of censorship. The books challenged (marking unsuccessful attempts to ban them from the shelves of libraries and schools) reflect many themes, and range from children's books to classics like Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
The ALA publishes an annual list of "Most Challenged Books" for which its office received reports of complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Number one in 2007: "And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell, in which two male penguins raise a penguin chick. It was charged with promoting homosexuality.
The Chocolate War
In Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" (1974), set in a Catholic boys' high school, a young student asks, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" It was challenged for sexually explicit and offensive language and violence.
The Golden Compass
Author Philip Pullman has denied that the first book of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy promotes atheism or is anti-Catholic, but that hasn't stopped attacks on religious grounds.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker's celebrated 1982 novel depicts the awakening of an African American woman to her independence in the South, and includes lesbian characters as well as abusive language and violence. It won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.
A Light In The Attic
Shel Silverstein's collection of rhymes and whimsical drawings was challenged at one school because it "encourages children to break dishes so they won't have to dry them." Another elementary school banned it in 1986 because some of its poems were said to have "glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encouraged children to be disobedient."
Oh, you Muggles ...
J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series is credited with invigorating an entire generation of young readers. Its tales of sorcery have also made it the target of charges of being anti-religious, making it the number one most-challenged book series of the 21st Century.
Kevin Henkes' coming of age novel tells of a girl learning the secrets of a classmate killed in a car accident, and of her own mortality. This Newbery Honor recipient also received complaints of sexually explicit and offensive language.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee's beloved (by most) novel has been a frequent target. Called a "filthy, trashy novel" by a parent in Vernon Verona Sherill (N.Y) School District in 1980, it was also challenged at the Warren (Ind.) Township schools in 1981 because it was said to cause "psychological damage to the positive integration process."
Lauren Myracle's series of books written entirely in text messages follows the friendship of three 15-year-old girls. Combine tenth graders and texting, and you get complaints about the book's "sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group."
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky's novel of a high school student (do you notice a pattern here among challenged books?) fielded complaints for issues of "sexually explicit and offensive language," as well as themes of homosexuality.