Posts tagged ‘ALA Challenged Books 2009’

April 25, 2010

Would you let your child read this?

by thiszine

by Lacey N. Dunham

Recently, the American Library Association (ALA) released its list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009. I don’t know what school principals, teachers, parent associations, churches, individuals, libraries, politicians, or whoever else are challenging these books but it seems that they have a problem with issues and themes that are ripe for the age groups these books target: sex, sexuality, and rebellion through language (’cause who didn’t relish the first time they said “fuck” to their parents?).

However, Eleanor Barkhorn, in a blog post at The Atlantic, complained that the ALA list was “dismaying.” Much of her complaint stems from how the ALA compiled its list (which represents approximately 25% of challenges nationwide, a dismal number even discounting that challenges are underreported.

In her post, Barkhorn writes that “when parents complain about what their children read, it shows that books are doing their jobs: affecting young readers so much that they are transformed. It’s scary to think of books being removed from libraries because they’re controversial. But it’s even scarier to think of a country where books are so irrelevant, parents don’t even care enough to complain.”

Are books still a force of controversy today or is the trend of fewer complaints a reflection that issues like sex, homosexuality, drug use, and racism have moved into the public discourse and are no longer consider taboo discussion topics except in a few, select areas of the country? Maybe the fewer books that are challenged is a hopeful sign that in our ever diverse, ever multicultural society, things that shocked my grandmother fail to raise the eyebrows of her children and grandchildren. Book apathy might not be the blame for the ALA’s results. Mainstreaming taboos into the status-quo could be a much larger, and far more welcome, culprit.

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The ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009

1. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. The Color Purple Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

EXTRAS:
–For more on how the ALA develops its annual list, read their website.

Review of #2 on the ALA’s 2009 list, And Tango Makes Three , by this editor Lacey N. Dunham, originally written for The Feminist Review.

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