In 1986, in response to inquiries from librarians facing book or material challenges for the first time, the Intellectual Freedom Committee developed the following list of definitions to clarify terminology associated with challenges:
The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) receives reports from libraries, schools, and the media on attempts to ban books in communities across the country. The ALA compiles lists of challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.
According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.
Book--May circulate 813.54 M882b
|Beloved, by Toni Morrison
"Inappropriate topics of bestiality, racism, and sex"
Book--May circulate 828.91 H986
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
A favorite among book challengers for nearly 80 years, Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel was banned in Ireland shortly after publication. With its themes of sexual promiscuity, drug use and suicide, "Brave New World" tells a story in a bleak future where the populace is manipulated and controlled by the state. Schools in Miller, Mo., banned "Brave New World" in 1980 because of its characters' acceptance of promiscuous sex.
The book was challenged as required reading in the Corona-Norco, Calif., Unified School District in 1993 because it "centered around negative activity". The challengers cited the school's health curriculum, which taught sexual abstinence, and said the characters of "Brave New World" went against those teachings. A challenge in Mercedes, Texas, on the basis of adult content, resulted in the school board's ruling that school principals must offer alternate reading selections if parents challenge a book on a reading list.
Book--May circulate 813.54 S165cL
|The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
"Excess vulgar language, sexual scenes, things concerning moral issues, excessive violence"
Published in 1951 as a novel for adults, “Catcher in the Rye” gained popularity with young adult readers for its consideration of teenage disillusionment and rebellion. Controversy around the book – particularly its vulgar or “blasphemous” language, sexual content, and references to alcohol and cigarettes – began soon after its publication and has continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. In 2001, “Catcher in the Rye” was removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC who believed it to be “a filthy, filthy book.” The same year, it was challenged by a Glynn County, GA school board member because of profanity, but was retained. “Catcher in the Rye” remains a classic of American literature and is widely regarded as one of the great novels of the 20th century.
Book--May circulate 813.54 W177cH
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel has been challenged dozens of times over the past 25 years in high schools around the country. In 1984, “The Color Purple” was challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA high school honors classes due to the work’s “sexual and social explicitness” and its “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history and human sexuality.” After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book’s use.
In 1992, "The Color Purple" was banned in the Souderton, Pa., Area School District for 10th graders on the grounds that it was "smut". The battle over "The Color Purple" raged for months in Junction City, Ore., after the book's "inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes and negative image of black men" made it the object of a challenge, even though the students did not have to read the book and could choose an alternative. At Ferguson High in Newport News, Va., students can only borrow the book from the library with parental permission.
Parents Against Bad Books in Schools challenged "The Color Purple" and 17 other titles in school libraries in 2002. They cited incidents of drug abuse, sexual activity, torture and violence as their objections. In 2009, a proposed Alabama law would have removed "The Color Purple" -- along with many other works of literature -- from public school libraries, on the basis that it has characters who engage in homosexual acts. The bill ultimately failed to pass the state legislature.
Book--May circulate 823.914 R884h
|Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
"Have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect and sheer evil"
Beginning with “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” published in 1997, this series of seven novels dominated both bestseller lists and the imaginations of readers across the globe. At the same time, controversy over magic and witchcraft in the stories prompted frequent book banning attempts, and even book burnings. In 2002, the books were proposed for removal, along with more than fifty other titles, by a teachers’ prayer group at the high school in Russell Springs, KY because they dealt with ghosts, cults, and witchcraft. That same year, a federal judge overturned restricted access to “Harry Potter” after parents of a Cedarville, AK fourth-grader filed a lawsuit challenging the requirement that students present written permission from a parent to borrow the books. The novels were originally challenged because they characterized authority as “stupid” and portrayed “good witches and good magic.”
Book--May circulate 811.54 A584i
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
In 1983, four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” claiming the work preaches “bitterness and hatred toward white people and encourages deviant behavior because of references to lesbianism, premarital sex and profanity.” Maya Angelou’s autobiography, published in 1969 and nominated for a National Book award in 1970, details the poet’s early years and illustrates the power of literature in surviving trauma and adversity. Angelou’s numerous awards and honors include the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Juvenile--May circulate J-Fic S474
In The Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
Book--May circulate 813.52 S819o
|Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
“Worthless, profanity-riddled book”
Book--May circulate 813.54 V947sß
|Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
"Just plain filthy"
Book--May circulate 813.54 L478tW
|To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
"A filthy, trashy novel"