Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Welcome to the Easton Area Public Library blog. We hope to go “beyond the call of Dewey” to bring you news of library events, book and movie reviews, and more.

What better time to debut our blog than Banned Books Week?  Social media offers us unprecedented freedom of expression yet schools and libraries still receive challenges to remove books from shelves and reading lists.

Every September  the American Library Association compiles a list of the most frequently challenged books of the previous year.  The ALA defines a challenge as "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."  In 2013, there were 307 official challenges with the following ten books most frequently cited.

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence

2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Banned Books Week started in 1982 when the Supreme Court upheld students’ First Amendment rights by stating that school officials could not remove books because of the messages or ideas conveyed. 

Challenges are usually made by parents who want to protect their children. While we can understand their motivation, individuals shouldn’t call on government or public agencies to restrict everyone’s choices. Most school districts will accommodate such concerns with an individualized assignment and without impacting other readers’ access to materials.

 To see 33 "must read" books that have been challenged or banned, go to

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