SparkNotes Blog

Banned Books Week: Protect Your Freedom to Read!

It’s Banned Books Week, Sparklers, which means it’s time to think about all those wonderful books out there that are being censored to “protect” you from their dirty, corrupting, and usually realistic takes on life.  Many of our favorite classics have shown up on the Banned Books list; The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird are just a couple.

Some of the books on this year’s list are understandable. For instance, we wouldn’t blame anybody for wanting to remove Fifty Shades of Grey from SCHOOL reading lists. But when it comes to censoring what material is available in public libraries, we’re concerned. The 2012-2013 list of books banned, challenged, or restricted shows another interesting trend. Young Adult fiction is being increasingly targeted for removal from libraries and reading lists. Some of the books included may surprise you…

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: This book is one of the top challenged books in high schools across the country, primarily for language and “inappropriate” references.
  • Ender’s Game: A teacher almost faced criminal charges for reading this book aloud to his middle-school class after one student characterized it as “pornographic.” Not sure we were reading the same book…
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Yet another YA novel on this list, this one was challenged because it deals with alcohol, homosexuality, and abuse.
  • When It Happens: Annnd another YA novel challenged because it mentions the HND.
  • Looking for Alaska: Yep, John Green has made it as a banned author. Why? Language. Despite the fact that this book has won awards…
  • Romeo and Juliet (The No Fear version): Our very own No Fear Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet has found its way into the realm of challenged books. Apparently, the modern English makes it too easy for students to realize that the titular characters have sex.

There are dozens of other books on the list, some YA and some not, but what really bothers us is this habit of censoring what teens are allowed to read. As we learned from the (ironically banned) 1984, censoring is not protecting. Celebrate your freedom to read (and speak), and check out the American Library Association to see what you can do.

Does book-banning bother you as much as it bothers us?