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Contact: Larra Clark
Media Relations Manager
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2005


"The Chocolate War" tops 2004 most challenged book list


Recent challenges to Anaya, Crutcher books highlight censorship concerns


CHICAGO - Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" tops the list of most challenged books of 2004, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom.   The book drew complaints from parents and others concerned about the book's sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint and violence. This year marks the first in five in which the Harry Potter series does not top or appear on the ALA's annual list.


The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 547 challenges last year.  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.  According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.


"With several news reports just in the past week of books like "Bless Me, Ultima," by Rudolfo Anaya being removed from schools, we must remain vigilant," said ALA President Carol Brey-Casiano.   "Not every book is right for every person, but providing a wide range of reading choices is vital for learning, exploration and imagination. The abilities to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely are core American values."


Anaya's award-winning book was banned from the curriculum in Norwood High School, Colo., for offensive language. Young adult novelist Chris Crutcher's books also have come under fire in Kansas, Alabama and Michigan this year.


Three of the 10 books on the "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2004" were cited for homosexual themes - which is the highest number in a decade. Sexual content and offensive language remain the most frequent reasons for seeking removal of books from schools and public libraries.  The books, in order of most frequently challenged, are:


  • "The Chocolate War" for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence


  • "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, offensive language and violence


  • "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy and political viewpoint


  • Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, for offensive language and modeling bad behavior


  • "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, for homosexuality, sexual content and offensive language


  • "What My Mother Doesn't Know" by Sonya Sones, for sexual content and offensive language


  • "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, for nudity and offensive language


  • "King & King" by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, for homosexuality


  • "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, for racism, homosexuality, sexual content, offensive language and unsuited to age group


  • "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, for racism, offensive language and violence


Off the list this year, but on the list for several years past, are the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, "Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous, "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain.


For more information on book challenges and censorship, please visit