Thursday, September 22, 2016

Banned Book Week of 2016 is Next Week!

When my librarian was new to the school, she had created all sorts of activities around banned books.  Thinking I was being funny, I told her I had a great idea too.  We could put a large trash barrel in the courtyard of the school and set it on fire and students could throw books in it as they went to class to celebrate the week.  I don't think I need to say that that particular joke did not go over well.  We've more than made up since then and she brings it up to me every year on this week.

So, the best way to gear up for it is to understand the terms and the see the books that are on the list.  Some students will pick up a book just because it was on The List.

Here is a list of top ten banned or challenged books in 2015 according to the ALA:

10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan - Why? Homosexuality and condones public displays of affection.

9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter - Why? Violence, age group suitability, and religious viewpoints.

8. Habibi by Craig Thompson - Why? age group suitability, nudity, and sexually explicit  (this is the one of two graphic novel on the list)

7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel - Why? violence and graphic images (this is the other graphic novel on the list)

6. The Holy Bible - Why? religious viewpoint (well, duh...)

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon - Why? offensive language, religious viewpoint, age suitability   Holy moly!  I'm currently teaching this book!  I better drop it fast!  

4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin - Why? anti-family, offensive language, political viewpoint, age suitability, religious viewpoint, sex education, homosexuality

3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings - Why? homosexuality, in accurate, sex education, religious viewpoints, age suitability

2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James - Why?  Do you really need to ask for this one?  sexually explicit, age suitability, poorly written

And the number one book - the one that beat out Fifty Shades of Grey - is....

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green - Why? offensive language, sexually explicit, and age suitability

Curious about other years?  
2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001

Now, to be fair, the lists now tend to contained challenged books as well as banned books.  This is a point of contention brought up in Banned Book Week Is a Crock! and the point is a good one, so I suggest you take a look at it.  

Common Sense Media has a fun list of the most challenged books for kids and teens.  I teach quite a few on this list:
Frequently Challenged Books for Kids & Teens

Other links about this week:

Freedom To Read Foundation

Google Books - Explore Banned Books

American Library Association - Banned Books Week

25 Awesome Quotes from Banned and Challenged Books

American Library Association

NCTE Banned Books Website

Banned Websites Awareness Day

Banned Book Week Twitter Page

I've been lucky to never have a book challenged in my classroom, but I know other teachers that have.  Have you?  Which book?  


  1. Love this blog!
    I have my classes reading Different Seasons by Stephen King this quarter. This week I will have to talk to them about how and why it is banned. With my students, the fact that it is a banned book could only help me get them to read it.

  2. It's the whole "forbidden fruit" appeal. I haven't read that particular King book. How are they liking it?

    1. They are reading it. Which is huge. I think they like it because the first novella is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. My students are in a halfway house and I think the idea of a jail break sounds good to them. Little do they know that they are secretly learning all sort of Language Arts.