Banned Books Week

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About This Guide

Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read, the continual fight against censorship, and the belief in the First Amendment. Banned Books Week is celebrated in a variety of different ways by libraries and booksellers across the country. Banned Books Week was created in 1982 in response to a surge in challenged books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. Since Banned Books Week began there have been more than 11,300 book challenges recorded throughout the country. [source] Challenged books are those which receive a formal attempt to restrict or remove materials based on an objection from a person or group, but books that are not formally challenged are not recorded. [source] This means that many book challenges go unrecorded and the actual number could be much higher.

Click through the tabs above to learn more about Banned Books Week, and how censorship still happens today.

By the Numbers

Banned Books info graphic By clicking on the graphic on the right you will be able to view the top 100 most challenged books for the last decade. You will also be able to view which states have the most books challenged and how many books are challenged every year.

    • In the past twenty years the most books formally challenged were in 1995.
    • The top four reasons for book challenges are: sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group, and violence.
    • The majority of book challenges are filed by parents.
    • The top three institutions, which receive book challenges are schools, school libraries, and public libraries

[source]

Map

This map is updated by the ALA and shows where and what books are challenged throughout the United States.

Explore the larger map of Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011.

Luria Library Collection

Fiction Titles:

Non-Fiction Titles:

These titles are located on the lower level of the library.

Juvenile Titles:

Titles with [*] are located in the adult fiction section.

News

The banning and challenging of books might seem like a relic from a by gone era, but it still alive and well. Here is a short list of recent controversial book challenges that have happened.

  • In 2016, one of the most commonly challenged series of books in the U.S. was Bill Cosby’s Little Bill series. This marks the first time that books have made it to the annual Top Ten Challenged Books List based on the author’s actions in real life, rather than the content of the book they wrote. In 2015 Cosby was charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, and is accused of doing the same to many more women. Though many authors have been criticized over time for their beliefs or behaviors rather than their books, none have made the Top Ten List [source].
  • In 2015, The Bible was one of the top-ten most challenged books in the U.S., due to the idea that its presence in a library would be considered the promotion of religious viewpoints. However, two other books in the top ten were also challenged on the basis of religious viewpoints: The novel The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime, by Mark Haddon, was challenged because of atheism within the book; children’s book Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan/em>, by Jeanette Winter, was challenged for references to Islam.
  • In January 2012, the Tuscon School District in Arizona banned a large amount of books about Mexican-American history and books where the central themes are ethnicity and oppression. Titles that were banned included: The Tempest, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, and Occupy America: A History of Chicanos. This book ban follows the elimination of ethnic studies programs from the school district. [source] The group Librotraficante started a movement to smuggle banned books back into Arizona, and succeeded in having the Ethnic Studies ban revoked by a federal judge in 2017.
  • In 2004, the book Always Running by Luis Rodriguez was pulled from Santa Barbara schools after a parent complained about graphic sex and violence depicted in the book. [source]