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Contact: Larra Clark
Press Officer, ALA
For Immediate Release 
February 13, 2004        

Alice series tops ALA's 2003 list of most challenged books

CHICAGO -- Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series tops the list of most challenged books of 2003, ending the four-year reign of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, according to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom.  The Alice series drew complaints from parents and others concerned about the books' sexual content.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 458 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.  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 reported, four or five remain unreported.

The "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2003" reflect a wide variety of themes.  The books, in order of most frequently challenged are:

  • Alice series, for sexual content, using offensive language, and being unsuited to age group.
  • Harry Potter series, for its focus on wizardry and magic.
  • "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, for using offensive language.
  • "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy.
  • "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, sexual content, offensive language, drugs and violence.
  • "Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous, for drugs.
  • "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris, for homosexuality, nudity, sexual content and sex education.
  • "We All Fall Down" by Robert Cormier, for offensive language and sexual content.
  • "King and King" by Linda de Haan, for homosexuality.
  • "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson, for offensive language and occult/satanism.

Off the list this year, but on the list for several years past, are "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, for sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group; "Captain Underpants" by Dav Pilkey, for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group; and  "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain, for racism, insensitivity and offensive language.


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