May 25, 2012

Friday Five: Challenged Books of 2011

The American Library Association (ALA) keeps tabs on books that are frequently challenged throughout the year by reading news reports and challenged book forms sent to the ALA.  So obviously it's not the most perfect way to say that this book received exactly 501 challenges last year, but it's as close as you can get from the information people share.  Plus, librarians are usually on top of reporting challenges.  We got your back, America.

From the ALA's list of challenged books by year:

Top Five Books Challenged in 2011

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 
Basically, parents are afraid that their children will read these books and then talk like the characters,  Newsflash: they already did (past tense) and now they've moved on to new words.  It's cray cray.  But no, there's also sex and religious viewpoints that we think will taint their minds.  I can get on board if the challenges were just to move these books from a children's section to a teen section (the covers do look incredibly juvenile), but the series is reflective of pretty much a large chunk of teen lit.   

2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Alright, I've never read (or heard of) this series before but the ALA lists "nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group" as the reasons the series is frequently challenged.

3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
One of the reasons listed for the trilogy's challenges is "anti-family."  The same reason popped up in the past about Harry Potter.  I can see how the Dursley's represent that (although when you lock a kid under the stairs, he's got reason to hate you and cast pretend spells in your direction), but where is HG anti-family?  Katniss volunteers for the Games to save her family.  I DON'T GET IT.  But, it's clearly the violence that is most objectionable which is understandable for a younger audience.  It's difficult to explain to a concerned parent that the violence isn't the focus, but it's what the violence represents.  They only hear "KIDS ARE KILLING KIDS!" 

4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
I realize that this is stereotypical, but I feel that the people who challenge these types of books are the ones who would benefit the most from giving the books to their kids.  Well, not if you want your child to learn the facts of why pushing a baby through your nether regions is God's way of punishing you for being born with ovaries.  But seriously, why can't we just let the books help!? If you're that uncomfortable giving your child a book, wouldn't you be that much more uncomfortable having an actual conversation? 

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
This book contains bullying, domestic abuse, racism, sex talk, and profanity.  Adding those together equals "Hide your kids, hide your wife."  But c'mon people.  This story is about an Indian boy moving from his reservation to an all white school.  Of course it's going to be a difficult story!!! Sometimes kids need to read difficult stories.  Sherman Alexie wrote an AMAZING response to the horrific WSJ article from last year that criticized YA lit.  When an 18 year old is old enough to go die for his country, but too young to be exposed to abuse and world issues in a novel, there's a problem. 

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