Librarians nationwide already are getting ready for this year’s Banned Book Week—but are you ready? Can you identify the books that draw the most fire nationwide?
Recently, The Kite Runner and Chinese Handcuffs were on the educational chopping block at the public high school in Waukesha, Kansas, put there by a parent who objected to the “extreme violence” they depict. Just a few days ago, the Waukesha school committee rejected the parent’s challenge, keeping the books on the high-school reading list. But this is just the most recent challenge.
Do you know what book holds the top spot for the most frequently challenged and banned book? I’ll give you five choices. All of them made the Top 10 list of most frequently challenged books in the last decade. Can you spot No. 1?
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
Data on these and other challenged books are complied by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. (See the complete lists here.)
The most frequently challenged book—and the most banned—is the 4th one on my list of five books: Captain Underpants. It topped the list in 2012 and 2013. If you are not familiar with this series (it sold 70 million copies worldwide), here’s a brief synopsis from Wikipedia:
Captain Underpants is a children’s novel series by American author and illustrator Dav Pilkey. The series revolves around two fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins living in Piqua, Ohio—and Captain Underpants, an aptly named superhero from one of the boys’ homemade comic books, that accidentally becomes real when George and Harold hypnotize their megalomaniacal principal, Mr. Krupp.
The book was challenged (and banned) in many schools and libraries because it was considered insensitive, not appropriate for the age group, and it condoned (and even encourage) kids to disobey people in authority.
What do you think of the recent attempts to ban The Kite Runner and Chinese Handcuffs?
Are you surprised to learn that Captain Underpants is the #1 most banned book?
Are any books challenged or banned in your school district?