Each year, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom publishes a list of the Top 10 Banned or Challenged books of the year. This list explores some of the most frequently banned books from the past few years — and the reasons other people don’t want you to read them.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Reasons: offensive language; racism, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Most people think 15-year-old Charlie is a freak. The only friend he had killed himself, forcing him to face high school alone. But then seniors Patrick and his beautiful stepsister Sam take Charlie under their wings and introduce him to heir eclectic, open-minded, hard-partying friends. It is from these older kids that Charlie learns to live and love, until a repressed secret from his past threatens to destroy his newfound happiness. Reasons: Drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide and unsuited to age group.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
While many, many readers have followed, embraced, and rooted for Katniss Everdeen and her heroic struggle against the evil, controlling, and manipulative forces of Panem, there have also been voices of dissent. In the past few years, there have been multiple challenges to this series which question its place both on library shelves, and in the hands of young people. Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic and violence.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school’s annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit and violence.
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Intellectually and athletically gifted, TJ, a multiracial, adopted teenager, shuns organized sports and the gung-ho athletes at his high school until he agrees to form a swimming team and recruits some of the school’s less popular students. Reasons: Racism and offensive language.
Lush by Natasha Friend
Thirteen-year-old Samantha feels that she must keep secret the fact that her father is an alcoholic. It would bring shame to her family if this secret got out. But when things get out of hand, Samantha realizes that she needs to share some things with her friends. Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
High school junior Kristina battles an addiction to the “monster” crystal meth, or “Crank,” in this powerful novel in verse. Reasons: drugs, offensive language and sexually explicit.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In the small southern town of 1930’s Maycomb, Alabama, seven-year-old Scout Finch and her older brother Jem are raised by their father Atticus, a lawyer. When Atticus is called to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl, Scout and Jem’s idyllic childhood is interrupted by the intolerance, fear, and prejudice of Depression Era America. Reasons: offensive language, racism and unsuited to age group.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human. Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence.
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam. Reasons: offensive language, racism and violence.
ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle
Chronicles, in “instant message” format, the day-to-day experiences, feelings, and plans of three friends, Zoe, Maddie, and Angela, as they begin tenth grade. Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
A tale born of witch clans and armored bears, shining angels and magical devices, haunted other world and the shocking destinies of Lyra and Wil, two children at the center of a more-than-mortal battle. Reasons: Political viewpoint, religious viewpoint and violence.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Chronicles the misadventures of Holden Caulfield, after his expulsion from prep school. Reasons: Sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group.
What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Sophie describes her relationships with a series of boys as she searches for Mr. Right. Reasons: Sexual content and being unsuited to age group.
Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar
An omniscient blogger airs out the dirty laundry of some very privileged and shallow prep school students in New York. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.