On Display: Stand Up For Your Right to Read!

Every fall, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books from the previous year. For the last week in September, students are encouraged to “stand up for their right to read” (this year’s slogan) by checking out and reading a book deemed controversial by many parents, teachers, religious leaders and others across the country.

Many titles now considered classics have been on and off the banned lists over the years, including books you can pick up at any library, like 1984, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Gone with the Wind, Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Lord of the Rings, The Color Purple, Lolita, and many others. But did you know that the Holy Bible made the list for 2015?

Controversial or not, freedom of access to information is a core value of librarianship. Alongside libraries nationwide, HPU Libraries celebrated banned books week this year with a display of books from this and recent years’ lists. Not surprisingly, many of these titles are considered “young adult” literature, and have been hugely popular.

Banned books week may be over, but it is always a good time to exercise your right to read. Check out one of the following titles to read over Fall Break!

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Topping off this year’s list are Looking for Alaska by John Green, cited for “offensive language” and being “sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.” A graphic novel called Habibi, by Craig Thompson also made the list for those reasons. The first runner up is, of course, Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James, which was accused of being “sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and just plain poorly written.”

Since LGBT issues have been so heavily debated this past year, it comes as no surprise that three children’s and young adult titles made the list for homosexuality:

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Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin had the most criticism, accused of being “anti-family” with “offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint” and “unsuited for age group.”

The remainder of this year’s top ten included The Holy Bible, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, and Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter for their “religious viewpoints.” A final title–Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel–made the list solely for violent content and graphic images.

Don’t hesitate to ask a librarian to help you locate titles of interest to you on the banned list! To learn more about intellectual freedom and challenged books, visit http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks.