How many of these banned books have you read?

For wordsmiths, the idea of banning books might seem offensive.

While conducting research for his high-school English class, my son discovered that some of his favorite childhood books were on the Top 10 banned and challenged books list. His incredulous response was: “’Captain Underpants’—really?”

Yes, “Captain Underpants” is on the book of banned books.

The American Library Association has been tracking and raising awareness about “documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries” since 1990.

The organization said that most book challenges are brought by parents and are made in classrooms, school libraries and public libraries. The most common reasons that books are challenged include:

  • Occult or satanic themes
  • Religious viewpoints
  • Anti-family messages
  • Violence
  • Offensive language
  • Themes that are unsuited to certain age groups
  • Sexually explicit material

The ALA also said that only about 10 percent of challenged books are removed from the location, thanks to efforts by local librarians, students, teachers and patrons.

Below is a list of the organization’s most challenged books by year. How many have you read?

2016 — “This One Summer,” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

2015 — “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green

2014 — “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie

2013 — “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey

2012 — “Captain Underpants” (series), by Dav Pilkey

2011 — “ttyl,” “ttfn” and “l8r, g8r” (series), by Lauren Myracle

2010 — “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

2009 — “ttyl,” “ttfn” and “l8r, g8r” (series), by Lauren Myracle

2008 — “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

2007 — “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

2006 — “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

2005 — “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health,” by Robie H. Harris

2004 — “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier

2003 — “Alice” (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

2002 — “Harry Potter” (series), by J.K. Rowling

2001 — “Harry Potter” (series), by J.K. Rowling


As part of its advocacy efforts, the ALA sponsors Banned Books Week, an event celebrating the freedom to read. It typically takes place the last week of September.

Incensed by the idea of book banning, my son found this quote from author Stephen King and used it in his project:

What I tell kids is, don’t get mad, get even. Don’t spend time waving signs or carrying petitions around the neighborhood. Instead, run, don’t walk, to the nearest non-school library or to the local bookstore and get whatever it was that they banned. Read whatever they’re trying to keep out of your eyes and your brain, because that’s exactly what you need to know.

Read more about banned books at the American Library Association’s website.


This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

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