It’s Banned Books Week – How will You Be Celebrating?!

Banned Books Week
(image from Banned Books Week website)

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read  starts today through October 4th. This annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

From the ALA website:

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

According to the ALA website, the following books are the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000:

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

And also from the ALA website, the following are the top ten from 2000-2005:

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3.  Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6.  Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
7. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
8. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwart
9. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
10. Forever by Judy Blume

My thoughts about banned books:

I for one, don’t like everything that I read (I’ve always admitted my dislike for harsh language and graphic sex) but everybody has the right to choose for themselves what they want to read.  I don’t want anybody to tell me what I can or can not read and I certainly couldn’t imagine making that decision for others.  I wholeheartedly admit there is a lot of trash out there amongst a lot of great books, but one should never take away someones agency to choose what they can or can’t read.

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to  know what my children are reading and help them choose books appropriate for their age and maturity level.  And then when the time comes, trust that I have taught them well enough to make those decisions on their own.

For Banned Books Week I decided I’m going to read and review one challenged book a day.

Yes, so I’m totally crazy because I know I’m already doing this Blogging & Reading for Darfur thing and it’s not as if I don’t already have enough to do this month.  So I’m taking the easy way out and choosing really, really short books.

They are:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

So I apologize for the double posting that will be infiltrating your feed readers and inboxes.  I really want to wrap this Darfur thing neatly into September and I have two more interviews scheduled before the end of the month and a tour beginning of October.  And I really don’t want to skip out on Banned Books Week.  So lots coming at ya!

Visit the ALA’s website and the Banned Books Week website for details on how to get involved.  All of the titles mentioned above are available in the Maw Books Amazon store.

So how will you be celebrating Banned Books Week?

29 comments


  1. [...] Comments It’s Banned Books Week! on The Big Announcement is Here: Reading & Blogging for DarfurInterview with Leslie Patricelli, [...]

    on September 27th, 2008 at 12:24 am
  2. I think I might finally read one or two of the books in this list this week.

    I loved the Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz when I was a kid! I’ve read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (assigned reading in high school, no less), all of the Harry Potter books (some of them more than once), I have Bridge to Terabithia in my TBR pile (one of my online groups is reading it this year), I’ve read several of the Goosebump books (but preferred his Fear Street series much more), I loved A Wrinkle in Time (and A Ring of Endless Light and Troubling a Star- L’Engle was a fantastic author), I have never read or seen The Witches but it is October’s group read for the group I own, I’ve listened to the audio book of The Bluest Eye, I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and have read it twice (once in high school also), Flowers for Algernon was really sad (another one I was required to read in school, middle school actually), I own a well-loved copy of a Light in the Attic (how in the world could you ban such wonderful poems?!), I’ve read the first book in Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series (I liked it but it’s not my favorite by her), also read Cujo twice, loved the movie James and the Giant Peach but have never read the book (yet!), Lord of the Flies was very creepy (another assigned read in high school), and I’ve read Carrie and The Dead Zone twice too.

    Whoa, I guess I let that run on a little lol! Hmm, I wonder if The Shining was banned because I plan on re-reading that one soon.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 4:15 am
  3. I agree with your thoughts, Natasha. It appears as if I have only read 20 books from the list – not sure if that means anything. :)

    on September 27th, 2008 at 6:06 am
  4. There’s also a website called The Forbidden Library (http://www.forbiddenlibrary.com) that offers some really funny reasons why certain books have been banned. The explanation for A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorites on that list.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 6:08 am
  5. I totally agree with your thoughts on banned books. When I went to library school I quickly realized that I had to put aside my personal feelings about books and be thankful for my freedoms, regardless of what is on the shelf.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 11:08 am
  6. [...] Natasha @ Maw Books [...]

    on September 27th, 2008 at 1:57 pm
  7. Ladytink_534 – I remember Scary Stories from when I was little. The cover alone scared me. And seriously what in the world is wrong with A Light in the Attic?! Love it! Have a copy myself on the shelf. I think I read some Stephen King in high school but they didn’t stick with me.

    Joy – I actually have no desire to read a ton of the books on the list, probably for a lot of the same reasons that they were challenged in the first place. LOL.

    Charley – Thanks for the link. I went and read the Wrinkle in time explanation! Now I’m even more excited to read it this week.

    Tricia – There is a lot of trash out there isn’t there? Let it be somebody else’s trash and not mine. That’s the point isn’t it?

    on September 27th, 2008 at 1:57 pm
  8. “I don’t want anybody to tell me what I can or can not read and I certainly couldn’t imagine making that decision for others. I wholeheartedly admit there is a lot of trash out there amongst a lot of great books, but one should never take away someones agency to choose what they can or can’t read.”

    Very well said! I need to see if I can fit in at least one banned book this week.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 2:28 pm
  9. How do you do it Natasha? It irritates me to see those Judy Blume books on the list. They were all so important to me growing up. I’m glad my parents always let me read whatever I wanted.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 4:13 pm
  10. I’m going to *try* to read Huckleberry Finn this week. Emphasis on try. :) I’d love to read more banned books this week. But I’d be happy with one.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 4:44 pm
  11. Well I already kind of got on my little soapbox on your ‘Of Mice and Men’ post but, seriously…how can anyone ban a book?

    I consider myself to be an intellectual, fairly conservative, christian woman, with a pretty good set of morals; however who I am I to tell someone else they can’t read a book because I don’t agree with the subject matter?

    I agree with Natasha on a lot of things. I don’t really like excessive foul language in a book, and I have even found books that have subject matter that I find too offensive to continue reading (i.e. Piers Anthony, Firefly.) But it is my choice to put that book down, or keep reading it if I want to. It may not offend someone else. It’s not to say it isn’t well written.

    The big one when I was in high school was some parents group getting all upset because Huck Finn was on the reading list. It used the ‘N’ word and that was inappropriate. Well, if the book was written and set in todays time, that might have been offensive. The dialog was appropriate and true to the day. It made it historically accurate fiction for the time period depicted. If it would have said, “African-american Jim went….” it just wouldn’t have worked would it? It shows what the thoughts and times were like…it doesn’t condone the word, if anything it makes you see why people find it offensive if used in everyday context today.

    Okay…~stepping down off of soapbox again~ I am done :) A few things irritate me greatly…and this is one of them.

    Oh Yeah..~stepping back on soapbox~ Judy Blume? Roald Dahl? A Wrinkle in time? Harry Potter? Ack Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies?!?! Two of my favorite books. What are people thinking?!?!?!?!
    ~Stepping down again~ Anyone else want a turn :D

    on September 27th, 2008 at 9:02 pm
  12. I agree with you on banned books, especially when it comes to my children’s reading selections. If they do read something that hasn’t been ‘pre-screened” by me, then it just becomes one of those teachable moments to learn from.

    I used to own a daycare and always made a point to read these challenged books during Banned Books Week. Typically, there was never anything inappropriate about them in the least. Fortunately,I had the full support of the parents who completely got the point. Well…until one summer program when we did some sort of Harry Potter theme for a week and had one family all up in arms over it. incidentally, they had never read the books themselves but someone at their church had.

    I love the Darfur thing! I wish I had found your blog earlier this month….

    on September 27th, 2008 at 9:13 pm
  13. Charley- That link was fabulous. I truly wonder if the people opposing these books have actually read them? The reasons for some were pretty humorous.

    on September 27th, 2008 at 9:17 pm
  14. We’ve kicked off the week here already and will be offering a great giveaway in honor of Banned Books Week!

    I love reading what all of you are doing to celebrate not only our freedom to read, but the freedom to actually be parents to our children and involved in what they read, as well!

    on September 28th, 2008 at 1:26 am
  15. [...] Natasha @ Maw Books, who is reading and reviewing one challenged book a day. [...]

    on September 28th, 2008 at 10:54 am
  16. I’ve read 12 of those. which for me, feels like very little. but what i think is funny is that almost all of the ones i had read were required reading for school. (ha, ha). Anyways, all the ones I’ve read were great. I’m also reading Of Mice and Men for school this spring. (I would also like to know your opinion on Go Ask Alice if you get around to it. I know you’re busy.) It’s very controversial book and I would like to know your opinion =]

    on September 28th, 2008 at 5:24 pm
  17. ummm make that 14. I’ve read Scary Stories (so long ago, read that when i was little! loved the one with the women who kept her head on with a ribbon! …banned?! keep in mind i was like, only 6 years old people! and I loved it!) and Lord of the Flies (required) I think required for school books get looked at more harshly because so many more people are reading them with aware parents.

    on September 28th, 2008 at 5:38 pm
  18. Nymeth – I was surprised when I looked at the list to see how many books I have already read this year.

    Tara – How do I do it? Ha! I pick books that I can read under two hours! I have to admit I’ve read few Judy Blume books but the ones I have read have all been when I was a preteen.

    Becky – I’d love to read Huckleberry Finn sometime in the near future.

    Jenn M. – LOVE your thoughts. You know you can get on your soapbox anytime around here!

    Michele – It’s funny because most of the challenges comes from parents who don’t want to expose their kids to those books. To which I say, “you parent your kids and I’ll parent mine.”

    Abbi – So funny that you should mention Go Ask Alice! I know it wasn’t on my list to read this week but a copy fell into my hands through very strange circumstances and I am planning on reviewing it tomorrow! So basically, your wish is my command!

    on September 28th, 2008 at 8:02 pm
  19. It looks like that Judy Blume is a troublemaker :> Are any of her books not banned??

    I feel really strongly about not banning books, too. If people feel like they can tell us what to read, what else do they feel entitled to tell us to do (or not)?

    on September 28th, 2008 at 8:41 pm
  20. [...] Margaret by Judy BlumeMonica Taylor on Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy BlumeNicole on It’s Banned Books Week – How will You Be Celebrating?!Natasha Maw on It’s Banned Books Week – How will You Be Celebrating?!Ramya on Are You There God? [...]

    on September 29th, 2008 at 4:30 am
  21. I remember reading Forever by Judy Blume when I was young and feeling guilty about it. I don’t believe in banning but I can understand why some people would want to ban it. Don’t get me wrong, please, I’m not saying that any books should be banned I just can understand where they are coming from in some instances. What’s funny is that Forever is probably pretty tame compared to many YA books these days.

    on September 29th, 2008 at 11:08 am
  22. I have to agree there are a lot of books on those lists that I would never read and I think are trashy but… I would never endorse censorship of the reading public. read What you want. I also have to day that there are at least 30 books on the list that are among my favorite books. So sad. Bad Book Banners.

    on September 29th, 2008 at 11:25 am
  23. [...] read James and the Giant Peach during Banned Books Week.  This book has been challenged because it’s too magical, advocates communism (what?!?), and [...]

    on September 30th, 2008 at 9:27 am
  24. “As a parent, it’s my responsibility to know what my children are reading and help them choose books appropriate for their age and maturity level. And then when the time comes, trust that I have taught them well enough to make those decisions on their own.”

    You said it perfectly!
    I don’t get book banning. Yeah, there are a lot a books out there I don’t want to read but that is my choice, not somebody else’s. I also think it ironic that by trying to ban a book it gets more attention, ends up on a list like this one, and more people end of reading it.
    I think some of the reasons people try to ban certain books are in many cases just ludicrous.

    on September 30th, 2008 at 11:49 am
  25. hey!!! i’ve actually read some of those!!! that is so cool! some in school some for school and some because i’ve heard of and my sister has read them… ooh! the two i wanted to mention were: The Goats by Brock Cole and Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. okay so summer of my german soldier my sister and brother said was bad but i decided to read it any way and i enjoyed it. it was quite a long time ago that i read both so i can’t really remember much except for the beginning of the goats (i really liked that one.. i think it was something in the end but i don’t remember what happened so…) and i remember the end of summer of my german soldier. i think i had some trouble picturing the scenery (sp?) for that one and i think at one point or another it was sad but i liked it. regardless. for the list that you will be reading i have read the last two and have heard about the others but haven’t read them. okay so i’ll stop about now seeing as how this is getting long… =]

    on September 30th, 2008 at 1:30 pm
  26. [...] read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson during Banned Books Week.  This book has been censored on the premise of language, it gives kids a negative view of life, [...]

    on October 1st, 2008 at 11:25 pm
  27. [...] read How to Eat Fried Worms during Banned Books Week.  Will you believe that people have tried to ban this book on the premise that eating worms is [...]

    on October 2nd, 2008 at 3:29 pm
  28. [...] read Julie of the Wolves during Banned Books Week.  This one has been banned because of the attempted rape of Julie, which is basically her husband [...]

    on October 3rd, 2008 at 9:50 pm
  29. [...] read A Wrinkle in Time during Banned Books Week.  People have tried to censor this book because of witches, crystal balls and demons.  Also, [...]

    on October 4th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

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