'Harry Potter' dethroned from top of banned book list and replaced with this
‘Fahrenheit 451’ is usually presented as a dystopian novel (and, ironically enough, is itself sometimes subject to protests or even bans), but the truth is that banning books is still a very real thing — yes, even in 2015.
Luckily for us bookworms, the American Library Association is here to call out those who would try to keep books out of the hands of impressionable kids (seriously, haven’t these people ever heard of the Internet?) and to publicize exactly which books are most often challenged, with its annual Banned Books Week.
The seven days of festivities, created by the Association back in 1982, are intended to encourage readers to pay more attention to and discuss frequently challenged books in order to raise more awareness about literary censorship, reports Mashable. According to the ALA, more than 11,300 books have been challenged in the U.S. since Banned Books Week began.
Every year, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom puts together a list of the most commonly challenged books. The titles on the list don’t tend to change that much, with the same multiple offenders shuffling between the top few spots.
Those of us who have gleefully followed the Banned Books list for years (and considered it an unofficial recommended reading list) remember that, for a few years, Harry Potter and his magical buddies were apparently the greatest threat to American youth, with school systems and parents across the country protesting the series’ inclusion of violence, the occult/Satanism and alleged anti-family viewpoint.
Somewhat shockingly, the Twilight books, which don’t skimp on either the occult or violence, have never topped the list. Neither has any of the Hunger Games trilogy, which are about as violent as young adult books get (I’m personally still traumatized by that part of the first book where the dead Tributes turn into mutant creatures, and I’m way too old for anyone except my grad school professors to be telling me what to read). Both series do appear among the top ten most challenged books over the last few years, but never made it to #1.
According to the country’s book police, roughly-sketched underwear-donning superheroes that indulge in the occasional bout of toilet humor (Captain Underpants), sexy abbreves (ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r) and a couple of gay penguins raising a family (And Tango Makes Three) are a far greater threat to our national security than deathless vampires or children killing each other on television.
The top spot through the last eight years has gone to one of those three books, but the most challenged book of 2014 goes to a perennial presence on the list: Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
The fact that it’s been challenged for reasons as terrifying as “sex education” should really be all you need to convince you it’s a worthwhile read, but if you don’t believe me, just ask the people in charge of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, who gave the top prize to Part-Time Indian in 2007.
If you’d like more reading material, the ALA has the full list of the most frequently challenged book in the U.S. every year since it went to Harry Potter back in 2001, as well as the reasons why the books were challenged.
[Image: Warner Bros. Entertainment]