Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ACLU Texas Issues Annual Report on Banned/Challenged Books

According the reports from the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom put out by the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, reports from 750 school districts across Texas were compiled by the ACLU and put into their 15th Annual Report on Banned Books.  The report notes that 17 books were banned from schools between 2010 and 2011, and numerous other books became restricted, only accessible by certain age groups or by parents of students.  In total, 67 books were subjected to challenges with the largest number occurring in the Round Rock Independent School District, though in the end, all 6 books were kept in the library.

The most common reasons for book challenges according to the report were as follows:
  • Politically/socially/racially offensive
  • Offensive to religious beliefs
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Violence and horror
  • Profanity/poor language
  • Sex or nudity

The books that were banned are as follows:
  • Steve Alten - The Trench
  • Carolyn Coman - Bee & Jacky
  • Caroline Cooney - The Terrorist
  • Lynne Ewing - Into the Cold Fire
  • Chris Lynch - The Slot Machine
  • Carolyn Mackler - Tangled
  • Joe Meno - The Great Perhaps
  • Lauren Myracle - Kissing Kate
  • Francesca Lia Block - Echo, Weetzie Bat
  • Eric Jerome Dickey - Drive Me Crazy, Dying for Revenge
  • Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - Alice on the Outside
  • Sean Cliver - Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art
  • Sarah Parvis - Creepy Castles
  • Mike Reiss - The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln
  • Andy Riley - Book of Bunny Suicides

For a full list of the books that have been restricted, including Merriam-Webster's Visual Dictionary, check out the full report.  Included are interviews with Francesca Lia Block and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, as well as a full list of the books that were challenged in each school district and summaries of each of the challenged books.

Also included in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom are explanations and explorations of some more prominent attempts to ban books from libraries, schools, and universities.  For example, in Tavares, Florida, Lake County Commissioner Jimmy Conner wants the Gossip Girls series removed from public libraries in the area due to what he says are excessive occurrences of sexual activity, drug use, violence, and crude language.  Conner said that portions of the book he read were "so vulgar you couldn't read it right there in the commission meeting without being extremely embarrassed."  He went on to say later, "What I read was pornography without pictures."  Though Conner is obviously extremely opposed to the books, County Library Services Director Thomas Merchant said that no one has filed a request for reconsideration to have the books removed or relocated to the Adult section of the library.

What do you think of the above list of banned books from the Texas ISD's?  What about the example of book challenges related to Gossip Girls?  Please leave your comments, questions, concerns in the comments section.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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