Banned Books Week began on Saturday and will continue through Saturday, October 2. If you are storing any banned books in a self storage unit or closet, or if you have some on your bedside table that have gone unread, you may want to read them now, during the Banned Books Week Readout. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores, as well as being endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
In 2009, the ten most frequently challenged books — books that community organizations attempted to ban — included a mix of old books that you might be likely to have stored somewhere, and newer books that might still be sitting on a bedside table. Older books that were challenged (as they typically are year after year) included Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. More recent choices include the entire Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, and Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. The American Library Association lists all ten most frequently challenged books, along with the reasons that are commonly cited for banning them.
The list of banned books does not change a lot from year to year. Other classics that are commonly challenged, but did not make the top ten list this year, include A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Beloved.
Titles directed at young adults often make the list for a few years running. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series made the top ten list more than once. Other young adult titles that have made the list several times include Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, Judy Blume’s Forever, Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves.
Most books, whether they are directed at young adults or not, are challenged for containing content that is considered inappropriate for children.
If you are mining a storage unit for banned classics, you may want to do so with the American Library Association’s Banned and Challenged Classics list in hand. Almost any large collection of books is bound to include several banned or challenged texts. The ALA list includes the top 100 banned classics. Here is a reprint of the top 20:
1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway