Celebrate your freedom to read during Banned Books Week this year (September 27 – October 4, 2008). These books were the top ten books challenged last year, a “challenge” being a request to remove the book from a school or library. To find out why these books were challenged, visit the American Library Association’s page on the Most Frequently Challenged Books & Authors in 2007 or read additional details in the Illinois Library Association’s brochure, Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008 (pdf).
Top ten books challenged in 2007
Based on a true story, And Tango Makes Three: The True Story of the Very First Chinstrap Penguin to Have Two Daddies by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell tells how two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo raise a baby after a zookeeper gives them an egg. Illustrated in watercolor, this picture book tells a heartwarming story.
Originally published in 1974, The Chocolate War, a young adult novel by Robert Cormier, still raises controversy. It depicts Jerry, a high school student, who experiences extreme intimidation and bullying when he refuses to sell chocolates in the school sale.
Olive's Ocean, a novel by Kevin Henkes, depicts adolescence through 12-year-old Martha. After a schoolmate dies, Martha can’t stop thinking about her as she spends the summer with her grandmother, experiencing romance for the first time.
Selected as one of the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults in 1997, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman follows 11-year-old orphan Lyra’s journey to find her kidnapped friend and imprisoned uncle. This fantasy takes place in a unique world where each human is paired with a “daemon” – an animal that is like an extension of their soul.
First published in 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain first encountered controversy over claims of indecency, then later on for racism. It tells the story of Huck, a young white boy, and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, and their adventures as they raft down the Mississippi River and search for freedom.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award in 1983. This novel depicts the life of Celie, a poor black woman, who was raped by her father and abused by the man she married. Her friendship with Shug helps her gain the strength and independence she needs to make changes in her life and heal.
The young adult novel ttyl by Lauren Myracle tells the story of three high-school friends entirely through IMs, or instant messages. (The title ttyl stands for Talk To You Later.) Each girl writes in her own style and the novel captures real issues these girls must face in their lives.
Nominated for a National Book Award in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is an autobiography of this acclaimed author’s early years. Angelou writes about her childhood in the 1930s, life in the South, and how she faces prejudice and adversity as she journeys into adulthood.
Robie H. Harris wrote a guidebook for parents and kids called It's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health. It provides answers to questions kids might have about sexuality.
Another young adult novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky features a teenage boy, Charlie, as he navigates life in the tenth grade. He makes new friends, experiences heartbreak, and grapples with real issues in this coming-of-age story.