Book censorship was alive and well in the last decade. As a society, we're still easily offended and willing to trade in someone else's right to read to appease our personal standards and moral values.
To celebrate Banned Books Week 2011, the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom has compiled the top reasons why books were challenged for the years 2001 through 2010 and into 2011.
4,600 books challenged: The number of books reported as being challenged in American libraries between 2001 and 2010 according to the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom.
4 or 5: For each book challenge reported, the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom estimates there are this many that remain unreported.
24: Percent of book challenges (1,119) that took place in public libraries. A resident complained about Paul Shaffer's "We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives" in 2010. The public library book was considered objectionable due to sexual content.
37: Percent of challenges that occurred in American school classrooms. Parents had David Sedaris' " I Like Guys: A Short Story" pulled from a Litchfield, N.H., Campbell High School elective course classroom in 2009 or "promoting bad behavior" and advancing a "political agenda." The school's English curriculum adviser who defended the short story for its tone and style later resigned.
370: Number of book challenges based on the presence of homosexuality according to the ALA. In 2011 a parent of a student of North High School in Clarkstown, N.Y., challenged Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" due to teenage sex and homosexuality in the teen coming-of-age novel.
553: The number of books challenged due to descriptions of violence. In 2010, Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" was challenged in a Richland, Wash. School District for descriptions of violence. The book was also challenged for its profanity and sex.
977: Number of books challenged for the somewhat vague offense containing "material deemed unsuited to age group." Parents objected to Cecily Von Ziegesar's "Only in Your Dreams: A Gossip Girl Novel" in the Leesburg, Fla. Public Library due to "sexual innuendo, drug references, and other adult topics." The title was re-shelved with a separate section of high school books.
1,536: Number of books challenged due to "sexually explicit" material. The "Merriam-Webster Dictionary" was pulled from a classroom in the Menifee, Calif., Union School District in 2010. A parent objected to the appearance of the inclusion of the term "oral sex" in the reference book. According to the ALA, "Officials said the district is forming a committee to consider a permanent classroom ban of the dictionary."
1,231: Number of book challenges due to "offensive language." The Scholastic book, "My Brother Sam Is Dead" was challenged and retained in "all Muscogee County, Ga. elementary school libraries (2009), despite a parent's concerns about profanity in the book" in 2009.
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