What Are Challenged or Banned Books?
According to the American Library Association, A challenged book is a book that someone has attempted to remove or restrict a book, based on the objections of a person or group. A banned book is a book that has been removed from the collection. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.
Who Challenges Books?
Parents are the largest group to request a book be removed from a library’s collection. Often with good intentions, parents will challenge a book to “protect others, usually children” but in reality they are restricting the rights of others to read that book.
Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. (2015). 2014 books challenges infographic. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/statistics/2014-books-challenges-infographic
Why Are Books Challenged or Banned?
Each book that is banned or censored is done so for the content within the pages. There are a few common reasons that books have been banned or censored in schools, libraries, and book stores.
Racial Issues: About and/or encouraging racism towards one or more group of people.
Encouragement of “Damaging” Lifestyles: Content of book encourages lifestyle choices that are not of the norm or could be considered dangerous or damaging. This could include drug use, co-habitation without marriage, or homosexuality.
Blasphemous Dialog: The author of the book uses words such as “God” or “Jesus” as profanity. This could also include any use of profanity or swear words within the text that any reader might find offensive.
Sexual Situations or Dialog: Many books with content that include sexual situations or dialog are banned or censored.
Violence or Negativity: Books with content that include violence are often banned or censored. Some books have also been deemed too negative or depressing and have been banned or censored as well.
Presence of Witchcraft: Books that include magic or witchcraft themes. A common example of these types of books are J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.
Religious Affiliations (unpopular religions): Books have been banned or censored due to an unpopular religious views or opinions in the content of the book. This is most commonly related to satanic or witchcraft themes found in the book. Although, many books have also been banned or censored for any religious views in general that might not coincide with the public view.
Political Bias: Most Commonly occurs when books support or examine extreme political parties/philosophies such as: fascism, communism, anarchism, etc.
Age Inappropriate: These books have been banned or censored due to their content and the age level at which they are aimed. In some cases children’s books are viewed to have “inappropriate” themes for the age level at which they are written for.
Many books have been banned or censored in one or more of these categories due to a misjudgment or misunderstanding about the books contents and message. Although a book may have been banned or labeled a certain way, it is important that the reader makes his/her own judgements on the book. Many books that have been banned or censored later were dropped from banned books lists and were no longer considered controversial. For this reason, banned books week occurs yearly to give readers a chance to revisit past or recently banned books to encourage a fresh look into the controversies the books faced.
John F. Reed Library, Fort Lewis College. (November 15,2013). Common reasons for banning books. In Butler University Libraries’ Libguide (Banned books: Reasons for banning books). Retrieved from http://libguides.butler.edu/c.php?g=34189&p=217686
The Charlotte School of Law Library invites the Charlotte School of Law community to participate in a Banned Books Read Out on Monday, October 5th from 11 am to 1 pm in the East Reading Room on the 5th floor of the library. Bring your favorite banned or challenged selection. We would like to know why you chose your selection and why it is important to you. We will have many banned or challenged books on display during the Read Out so you are welcome to choose one of them. We ask that you sign up in advance … HERE.