Each day, all across the country, one of our most basic freedoms — the right to read — is in danger. In communities large and small, censorship attempts threaten to undermine our freedom to read. Without our constant support, the First Amendment freedoms that we so often take for granted — the right to read, explore ideas, and express ourselves freely — are at risk. I urge you to participate and read one of these books or any of the other books previously challenged. For the complete list of challenged books for 2010-2011, see the PDF here.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie
Publisher: Thorndike Press; Little, Brown
Publish Date: September 12, 2007
Banned in the Stockton, Mo. School District (2010) because of violence, language, and some sexual content. Retained in the Helena, Mont. School District (2011) despite a parent’s objection that the book contained “obscene, vulgar and pornographic language.” This New York Times bestseller won the National Book Award in 2007 in the “Young People’s Literature” category, and is on many recommended book lists
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Publish Date: January 9, 2007
Challenged at the Theisen Middle School in Fond du Lac, Wis. (2010) by a parent who believes that the book has inappropriate subject matter for children. “Some (of the characters in the book) are sexually active, and alcohol is part of their recreation.”
Author: Augusten Burroughs
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: April 1, 2007
Challenged as a suggested reading in a class where juniors and seniors earn college credit in Hillsborough County, Fla. (2010). Four high schools — Plant, Middleton, Hillsborough, and Bloomingdale — voted to keep the book and place a “Mature Reader” label on the front cover. Three high schools — Sickles, Robinson, and Lennard — will require parental consent. Gaither High School and Riverview High School voted to ban the book. Riverview’s report stated: “This book has extremely inappropriate content for a high school media center collection. The book contained explicit homosexual and heterosexual situations, profanity, underage drinking and smoking, extreme moral shortcomings, child molesters, graphic pedophile situations and total lack of negative consequences throughout the book.”
The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publish Date: September 14, 2008
Challenged and presented to the Goffstown, N.H. school board (2010) by a parent claiming that it gave her eleven-year-old nightmares and could numb other students to the effects of violence.
Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publish Date: April 9, 2006
Removed from a spring break elective course at the Bedford, N.H. School District (2010) after a parent complained about the novel’s sexual content. The complainant further suggested that the school only allow “youth versions” of particular books or organize a parental review system over the summer that would look at books that students need parental permission to read. A checklist has been proposed that Bedford school officials would use to rate books and other instructional materials.
Snow Falling on Cedars
Author: David Guterson
Publish Date: January 12, 1994
Retained in college-level classes at Richland, Wash. high schools (2011). Teachers said the book was selected for the curriculum twelve years ago because it deals with prejudice against Japanese-Americans in the Pacific Northwest during and shortly after World War II.
Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publish Date: June 1, 1989 (First published in 1932)
Challenged at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Md. (2010) by a small group of parents who circulated a petition to have the book removed from use by county schools over concerns about explicit sexual content. The 1932 novel depicts a dystopian future where science and technology have run amok resulting in a morally bankrupt society. Retained on the list of approved materials that Seattle, Wash. high school teachers may use in their language arts curriculum (2011). A parent had complained that the book has a “high volume of racially offensive derogatory language and misinformation on Native Americans. In addition to the inaccurate imagery, and stereotype views, the text lacks literary value which is relevant to today’s contemporary multicultural society.”
Author: Frederick L. McKissack Jr.
Publish Date: August 25, 2009
Retained in the Broken Arrow, Okla. Sequoyah Middle School library (2010) despite a parent’s concern about several swear words in the text. The book is about a high school football player who, after becoming discouraged about his size, starts using steroids to bulk up, resulting in negative effects on his life and personality.
Publish Date: June 11, 1996
Challenged on an extracurricular reading list in the Horry County, S.C. school library (2011). The 1996 novel is based on the story of Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, who grows up in poverty. Precious is raped by her father, battered by her mother, and dismissed by social workers. The story follows Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, through her journey of learning how to read and be on her own. The novel was made into a critically acclaimed movie, Precious, in 2009, which received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, for the 82nd Academy Awards and Sundance Film Festival praise.
The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star
Author: Nikki Sixx
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/VH1
Publish Date: September 18, 2005
Pulled from an optional, supplemental reading list in an Advanced Placement psychology course in Brooksville, Fla. Hernando High School (2010) because of complains about explicit language, descriptions of drug use, and photos. Written by the former bassist for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, it is a cautionary tale about the
dangers of drug use.