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Banned Books Week 2014: Banned & Challenged Books 101

A guide to links and Banned Books Week resources on the web and home to the world famous UST Banned Book Trivia contest!

Why Celebrate Banned Books Week?


The American Library Association defines Banned Books Week as "the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.....BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them."

What are Weird Al, Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin doing this week?

Celebrating Banned Books Week of course!

Over 30 Years of Celebration

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, ALA created a timeline of notable books banned/challenged since the inception of Banned Books Week. Click on the picture below to see it:

Who Challenges Books?

Books are often challenged or banned due to material that an individual or an organization deems to be offensive, vulgar, racist, or goes against social norms. 

According to the Office of Intellectual Freedom the top three reasons given for challenging materials: 

1.the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
2.the material contained "offensive language"
3.the materials was "unsuited to any age group"

What's the difference between banning or challenging a book?

According to the American Libraries Association website

"A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2013

Out of 307 challenges as reported by the Office of Intellectual Freedom

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

 FUN FACT!  This is the second year
 in a row that Captain  Underpants got the first place spot.  
Well  done!


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


 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
 by Sherman Alexie; Ellen Forney (Illustrator)
 Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language,
 racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.
 FUN FACT: This book was number two on this list for 2012


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

FUN FACT!  This book was number four on this list 
last year. 


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



A Bad Boy can be Good for a Girl
by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity,                    
offensive language, sexually explicit.


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


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


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


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


Ways to Get Involved!

Get involved this week by browsing the displays at the UST Libraries and checking out the information on this guide.

Play the BBW Daily Trivia Contest
Do you know the answer?!

Voice your Opinion in the UST BBW Discussion!

Vote for your favorite Banned Books (let's get a list of UST favorites going!)

Participate in the 2013 Virtual Read Out!

Learn more about why books have been banned since 1990

Lists of Banned Books

Find lists of books that have been most frequently challenged or banned here: 

Top 10 by Year

Free Speech

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasent facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."      -John Kennedy