Every year during the last week of September, a number of authors, readers, teachers, journalists and publishers are brought together during Banned Books Week to celebrate the freedom to read and share ideas.
Banned Books Week began in 1982 when a number of schools and libraries started “challenging,” or attempting to restrict or remove, certain books.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), over 11,300 books have been removed or restricted from various locations across the country since Banned Books Week began.
Books are often challenged to protect children from “offensive language” and “inappropriate
sexual content.” Though many challenges are unsuccessful, the ALA sees them as a threat to freedom of speech.
According to the ALA’s website, banning books is “the one most un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”
The Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling, 1997 The series has been challenged and banned in various locations due to the belief that it has references to the occult and Satanism. Some have said the series is “anti-family.”
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, 1960 Even though it won the Pultzer Prize, Lee’s novel has been said to “promote white supremacy.” It has also been challenged due to its themes relating to racism.
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 The “Great American Novel” was challenged at a South Carolina Baptist College because of its “language and sexual references.” Many other places challenge it because of the many references to alcohol.
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury, 1953 Many have said Bradbury’s novel goes against religious beliefs. One school even reported that it “blacked out” all the inappropriate language the book contained.
Catch-22 Joseph Heller, 1961 This World War II novel is often challenged due to inappropriate language and offensive terms toward women.
The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, 1951 Often described as “obscene and foul,” this book is often removed from schools. It even is seen by many as “undermining morality.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky, 1999 Many scenes in the book depict themes of smoking, alcohol use and homosexuality, causing many school libraries to try and remove the book.
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins, 2008 Many believe that due to violence, the novel is inappropriate for certain age groups or that the themes go against their religious beliefs.
Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954 The trilogy has been challenged due to its violence and it has been said to have Satanic themes.