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Contact: Larra Clark
312-280-5043

For Immediate Release
January 13, 2003

Harry Potter series tops list of most challenged books four years in a row

The best-selling Harry Potter series of children's books by J.K. Rowling tops the list of books most challenged in 2002, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom. The Potter series drew complaints from parents and others concerned about the books' focus on wizardry and magic.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 515 reports of challenges last year, a 15 percent increase since 2001. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The majority of challenges are reported by public libraries, schools and school libraries. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each challenge reported, four or five remain unreported.

The "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2002" reflect a wide variety of themes. The books, in order of most frequently challenged are:

  • Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, for its focus on wizardry and magic.
  • Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for being sexually explicit, using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  • "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier (the "Most Challenged" book of 1998), for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  • "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, for sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.
  • "Taming the Star Runner" by S.E. Hinton, for offensive language.
  • "Captain Underpants" by Dav Pilkey, for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.
  • "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, for racism, insensitivity and offensive language.
  • "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson, for offensive language, sexual content and Occult/Satanism.
  • "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor, for insensitivity, racism and offensive language.
  • "Julie of the Wolves" by Julie Craighead George, for sexual content, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.

Off the list this year, but on the list for several years past, are the "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" series, by R. L. Stine, which were challenged for being too frightening for young people and depicting occult or "Satanic" themes, "It's Perfectly Normal," a sex education book by Robie Harris, for being too explicit, especially for children, "Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck, for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group, "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger for offensive language and being unsuited to age group, "The Color Purple," by Alice Walker, for sexual content and offensive language, "Fallen Angels," by Walter Dean Myers, for offensive language and being unsuited to age group, and "Blood and Chocolate" by Annette Curtis Klause for being sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.



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