The Central Pen joins the American Library Association (ALA) in celebrating Banned Books Week (September 21-27, 2014) where we pull out all of those so-called ‘naughty’ books that have been challenged, banned, defaced, and sometimes even stolen from our nation’s libraries because of what some view as contested themes, depictions, or characters.
Banned Books Week is an opportunity to celebrate free speech, literacy, and creativity. It also is an opportunity to focus our attention on an issue that is rarely discussed when we talk about education: censorship. Literature and censorship have a long, fraught history precisely because the written word is so incredibly powerful. It can shape ideas and narratives. It can push political and social issues and opinions. It can persuade and inform. It can be used to uplift people and ideas just as easily as it can be use to destroy them.
Here are some of The Pen‘s favorite banned books from the 21st Century:
- The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
- Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- Reasons: offensive language; racism
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
- Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
- Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
- Reason: sexually explicit
- The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
- Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
- Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
- Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
- Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
Don’t just read banned books–share them! Leave your favorites in the comments.
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Melissa Wehler, PhD. serves as the Assistant Dean of General Education and Professor of English at Central Penn College where she teaches classes on writing, literature, and film. Her academic writing has been published in several essay collections including Demons of the Body and Mind, Transnational Gothic , and A Quest of Her Own: Essays on the Female Hero in Modern Fantasy where she discusses topics including madness, disability studies, the gothic, and nationalism.