Young Adult books are the focus of Banned Books Week in 2015. Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will run from September 27 through October 3, 2015, and will be observed in libraries, schools, bookstores and other community settings across the nation and the world.
“Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. “These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”
In recent years, the majority of the most frequently challenged books in libraries have been Young Adult (YA) titles. Six YA titles were on the list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014, according to the American Library Association. Attempted bans on books of all kinds also frequently occur under the guise of protecting younger audiences.
Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging read-outs, displays, and community activities that raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Last year, tens of thousands of people participated in Banned Books Week online. More than 500 videos were posted in a virtual read-out, and thousands participated in hundreds of events in bookstores, libraries, and schools and universities across the country.
BannedBooksWeek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can get involved. The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, People For the American Way Foundation, PEN American Center, and Project Censored. (via the American Library Association website)
So what are the top challenged Young Adult* books of 2014-2015?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)
Data courtesy of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.
* Young Adult literature is generally written for an audience between the ages of about eleven or twelve to about seventeen or eighteen. This is not a steadfast rule, but rather a general parameter. For the purpose of this list, the sponsors of Banned Books Week have defined Young Adult as books that have been taught in middle and high schools, and/or are located in the teen collections of public and/or school libraries.
Curious as to what the full list of banned and challenged books were for 2014-2015? Check it out here.
Looking for a Young Adult book to read? Buzzfeed lists 37 Books Every YA Fan Needs To Read Before They Die (According to Goodreads Users).