Every year, the American Library Association compiles reports of challenged and banned materials from libraries around the country. The Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books are reported annually, and the results can act as a cultural barometer of sorts, reflecting the country’s tolerance (or lack of it) on certain themes or issues.
Regardless of which titles make the list each year, one thing we can always count on from the annual Top Ten is at least one surprise. The 2015 list did not disappoint, presenting an especially diverse range of titles and containing more adult books than usual, including The Holy Bible!
While each book on the list this year is worth of examination, these first-timers are of particular interest. All three were very well received by critics and the public alike, and each is ground-breaking in its own particular way:
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, while technically published for young adults, is required reading for anyone wanting to learn more about what it means to grow up transgender, genderqueer, or intersex in today’s world. Featuring six transgender youth, these revelatory stories are remarkable for their honesty and openness. Reasons for ban/challenge: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
Before The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime starting racking up awards for its stage adaptation, it was a brilliantly executed, quirky title filled with charts, maps, and drawings that allow readers to immerse themselves in the unusual mind of Christopher, the 15-year-old narrator whose outsider view of the world both helps and hinders his attempts to solve the murder of Wellington, the neighbor’s dog. Reasons for ban/challenge: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
Graphic novelist Craig Thompson has been known primarily for his books for younger readers, but his 2011 adult title, Habibi, is equally beautiful and heartbreaking. Centered around the lives of two young escaped slaves in an unnamed Middle Eastern nation, this epic story of love, loss, and survival is set against a backdrop that is both timeless and very modern. Thompson does not shy away from the uglier side of humanity, but rather uses it to illustrate just how breathtakingly precious human connection can be. Reasons for ban/challenge: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
If you are looking for even more suggestions, please see our Banned and Challenged Books list and don’t forget to exercise your freedom to read as you play Summer Book Bingo 2016!
~ posted by Summer H.
Looking for even more ideas? See 2015’s blog post on the same topic.