Friday, September 24, 2010

"Improper School Reading"

"Are these books not for our kids?  State ACLU issues list of what's been deemed improper school reading."  This is the headline of a recent article at, written by Maggie Galehouse.  The article is quite enlightening.  Apart from just giving a list of books that some groups deem inappropriate for classrooms or for children, the article also gives some interesting facts and figures regarding the breakdown of how many books are challenged for specific reasons.
Sex or nudity: 44
Profane language: 29
Violence and horror: 18
Drugs and alcohol: 17
Offensive to religious beliefs: 12
Politically, socially, racially offensive: 11
Other/No reason given: 14
I'm not really sure what's worse, the number of books banned for sex?  Or the number banned for "No reason given"?  In any case, Galehouse does a marvelous job covering book banning trends and notes:
To some extent, what gets banned or challenged depends on what's in fashion. In the past, Harry Potter books were challenged because of their focus on witchcraft. Similar cases were made against vampire books, although Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series was challenged by only one district in 2009-10.
Yet some topics always fall under scrutiny. This year, as in years past, some of the banned books have gay themes. [emphasis added]
This article, being from a Houston news site, covers only banned books in Texas, but it gives a good indication of the types of books being challenged and, as with the quote above, it still gives insight into the trends of book banning on a larger scale.  To finish off today's post, here is a list by the Texas ACLU of books removed from some library shelves or class reading lists in Texas in 2009-10, by author:
• Judy Blume: Forever ; Then Again, Maybe I Won't
• Jean Ferris: Eight Seconds
• Brian Innes: The History and Methods of Torture
• Mark Kidwell: The Creature From the Depths
• Denene Millner: Hotlanta
• Lauren Myracle: ttfn
• Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Achingly Alice
• Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson: And Tango Makes Three
• Julie Anne Peters: Far From Xanadu
• Patricia Polacco: In Our Mothers' House
• Anne Rooney: Zombies on the Loose
• R.L. Stine: Eye Candy
Time-Life Magazine
• Media: Tom Brown's Schooldays
• Allison Van Diepen: Snitch
• Jake Wizner: Spanking Shakespeare
• Cecily von Ziegesar: Would I Lie to You: A Gossip Girl Novel
Source: ACLU of Texas 


  1. As the author of one of these banned books, I can only say I am pleased and proud to be officially the polar opposite of the despised Texas Board of Education (which I presume is behind the ban). Puzzled, though - my book explains the historical background to the movie presentation of zombies. It's an entertaining and slightly educational book for reluctant readers. It doesn't suggest zombies exist. It doesn't promote zombies. I suppose it promotes science...

  2. I don't think I will every truly understand the reasons for banning most of these books. I see the reasons that are given, but there's got to be something more. Or else school boards across North America have really forgotten what it's like being a child and wanting to read about interesting and relevant subject matter. All I can do is shake my head and keep writing this blog in the hopes that things will eventually change for the better. Thanks for writing!