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YA Banned and Challenged 2015: Home

Banned Books Week Info 2015

What is Banned and Challenged Book Week

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association


What is Banned (and challenged) Books week?

The Freedom to Read Foundation Web Site explains that banned book week was “Started in 1982 to highlight the increase in challenges to books in libraries, schools, bookstores, and elsewhere, Banned Books Week is now a national—even international—celebration of the freedom to read”

Why might someone challenge a book?

According to the American Library Association “Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information”.  Or more specifically

“challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from ‘inappropriate’ sexual content or ‘offensive’ language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  • the material was considered to be "sexually explicit"
  • the material contained "offensive language"
  • the materials was "unsuited to any age group"

There are also other reasons that books are challenged or banned, such as “depictions of bullying”, “contains controversial issues”, “anti-family” and “encourages children to practice witchcraft”.


What is the difference between a challenged and banned a book?

On their website, The American Library Association differentiates the two this way:

 “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.”


Why do we need a special week just for banned books?

It is easy to take for granted the freedom to read.  It is easy to forget that there are times when books are challenged and removed from libraries.  However, the reports that “More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported.”

Why do we (as YA library users) need to think about this?

Banned book week 2015 has a special focus on YA literature, and for good reason! Here is a quote from Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week national committee, in a press release on web site announcing the celebration of YA literature.   

“Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. “These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”

What does this all mean?

People who challenge and ban books often do so with good intentions. They want to protect children/ people/ society (whomever!) from potentially offensive materials. The flip side to that argument is that not everyone has the same idea as to what might be dangerous or offensive and the freedom to read is protected under the first amendment of the US Constitution.

This is a complex and important issue and whatever your opinion is, stay informed! 

Related Links

Dav Pilky, Captain Underpants and Challenged Books