This year Banned Books week is 9/27 through 10/3. Here are the ALA’s most challenged books of 2014:

The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2014 include:

1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

Something to note about most of these books-they are what we would call “diverse titles.” Many of these books deviate from white, middle-class, ableist, heterosexual norms begging the question, are these books really challenged because they are “sexually explicit” or contain “offensive language” or is it because they challenge our views of what we consider normal?
I have read many of the books on this list, I have even reviewed a few of them on this blog. It fascinates me that a book as benign as Drama was considered “sexually explicit” when the closest anyone in the book gets to discussing sex is that a character is gay. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is one of the best books I read for a previous class. I felt it was highly appropriate for teens and tweens. Many of these titles are for youth audiences and the very fact that they are so challenged and the reasons they are being challenged is important. These books are more “real.” They contain real-life issues that young people want and need to read about.

Growing up everyone wanted to read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume (still one of the ranking “most challenged” authors) because she used a “bad” word (ONE!), but in truth it was because teen girls could identify with the book. Blume wrote about us, she understood us, and that made us feel important.
That’s why we need real books, diverse books, books that show us that it’s okay to be us.

Celebrate everyone’s right to READ!